Through cash register games like this one, gently introduce some money context to your kid's world. Start with this game of More Than, Less Than, then have them set their own inventory prices for pretend play.
Pricing inventory. It’s something that can make biz owners cringe (ask me how I know!). I mean, we have to answer icky questions like how much would someone pay for your product? How much did you spend to create it or source it? How much do similar items on the market go for and should your product even be placed in the same category as those?
Of course, it’s all a numbers game (even though it feels like an emotional one).
So, while it might not excite you (or me), having your child go through the motion of pricing their own store’s inventory can skyrocket their money understanding in terms of providing some sort of context to what things actually cost.
I mean, how else do they know how much a steak costs in relation to how much a granola bar costs? What about a container of yogurt versus a carton of ice-cream?
Let’s bring a little more intentional money play to your child’s next toy cash register play session with this More Than, Less Than Money Activity.
Money Activity Needs + Prep Work
- Gather these Items: Pretend play food items, or your own food item containers that have been washed out (such as old yogurt containers, boxes from cereals, empty bags, etc.).
- Players: Works with any number of players (just 1 shop clerk though at a time!)
- Suggested Cash Register: Don’t have a cash register for your kid(dos) yet? When designing this activity, I used Learning Resources’ Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register. Feeling crafty? You can make your own cash register.
- Suggested Reading: I’ve written a post on 9 books to read your child before their first store transaction. These could help in prep for this game. And here are 5 more cash register activity tutorials.
Step #1: Come Up with a List of Food Items
Your kid(dos) need a list of food items (aka, their inventory) that they’re going to price before cash register play begins.
Note: If you’re using the three sheets of food items + prices I’ve included in the free printable, then here’s your list: jar of pickles, apple, fish, bunch of bananas, ketchup, box of pasta, tomatoes, milk, ground beef, loaf of bread, onions, orange, whole chicken, 1 jar of spice.
Step #2: Price the Food Items
Your kid needs to see how much these food items cost in the real world so that they can price them for their store.
There are two ways you can set this, either in-home, or at an actual store.
The In-Home Version
Don’t want to leave the comfort of your home? No problem. You can use the three sheets of items/prices in the free printable.
Also, that’s what sales flyers are for!
Major Grocery Stores Weekly Ads Locator (put in your zip code to find the ad for your local store):
The In-Store Version
Grab a clipboard, and Page 2 of Your More Than, Less Than Activity Kit Printable and take your child to the store either during your next grocery store visit or as a dedicated trip just for this activity.
Have them go through the process of finding each item (with some guidance), going to the right aisle, and writing in the price that they find.
Step #3: Compare Costs of Items
Have your kid(dos) fill in Page 5 of the free More Than, Less Than printable. They’ll start to see whether or not tomatoes cost more than ground beef, or if a gallon of milk costs less than a whole chicken.
Step #4: Price Inventory
Now that they’ve seen a comparison of what things cost in relation to one another, they’ll have a better idea of how to price their own inventory.
They don’t need to use the exact same prices as the ones they discovered; they just need to price those items correctly in relation to one another.
For example, your child found that a box of cereal costs $3.99 at the store. They can price that box of cereal in their own inventory for however much they’d like, so long as it costs less than the ice-cream on their list (which costs more around $4.99 for a carton).
See how that works out? You’re giving your child some real-world money context so that they can price their items accordingly instead of using some pie-in-the-sky price off the top of their heads.
Ready for more? Now, the rest of their toy cash register play can begin.