Cash Register Games: More Than, Less Than Money Play

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.

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.

Looking for pretend play ideas for girls OR boys? This DIY preschool (+) activities + includes one of my fave learning printables so you can set up intentional money cash register games. |

How to Set Up Teachable Money Play Using Your Kid’s Toy Cash Register

A toy cash register is awesome for your child to play with. But don't you want to set up a bit more intentional money play from time-to-time? Let me show you how.

Got a shiny new toy cash register for your child and, while they think it’s cool, there’s no real direction from you on what to do with it?

Perhaps it’s not-so-new, but you’d like to introduce more intentional money toy cash register play for your child.

I’ve got steps below to show you how to start with some intentional money play with your kid’s toy cash register.

Money Activity Needs + Prep Work

Step #1: Choose Who Plays Shop Clerk and Who Plays Customer

You’ll need at least two players for this toy cash register activity (pssst: Yes, Mama Bear, you can be one of them!). Decide who is going to play Shop Clerk, and who is going to play Customer, then cut out their badges, fill in their names, and put them on.

Step #2: Help Your (Shop Clerk) Child Price their Inventory

This particular Play & Learn Cash Register by The Learning Journey that I used when writing this article comes with 12 different food options and 12 different price options. You can mix and match between the two.

To create an intentional money play activity for your child, ask them to come up with a list of what they want to charge for each food item as prep for the actual play (you can use Page 2 of the Money Play Starter Kit free printable).

  • 12 Food items: whole chicken, 6 eggs, 3 carrots, 1 steak, 1 hot dog, 1 box of cereal, grapes, cheese, cookie, 1 box of rice, 1 apple, 1 carton of milk
  • 12 Prices: $2.25, $3.15, $0.65, $1.85, $4.05, $3.75, $2.40, $1.00, $0.90, $2.60, $3.00, $1.50

You can base this off of a coupon circular you found from your local grocery store, a trip to your actual grocery store to get a range of what these particular items cost, or just allowing them to make a guess and go with it.

Tip: Is your child very particular about cash register prices lining up with the circulars? They can just use the food selector wheel on the left-side (images of the food items) of the Play & Learn Cash Register by The Learning Journey, and then make up their own prices based off of the circulars. Write down the prices they choose on their list, and go off of that.

Step #3: Help Your (Customer) Child Make a Shopping List

Now it’s your Customer’s turn to make a list for their store play! Use Page 3 of the Money Play Starter Kit free printable.

Here’s some ideas for how to get them to decide on what they want:

  • Write down each of the 12 items that are available, and let your child circle which ones they’d like to buy.
  • Help them search for a recipe they could make with some of the 12 items offered to them. Could be some fun imagination play. Could be a search on where you enter whatever ingredients you have on hand they give you recipes that match.
  • Whatever their heart desires.

Step #4: Divvy up the Cash

Your toy cash register comes with pretend money, and you’ll need to divvy this up between both the Shop Clerk – to make change – and the Customer – to make purchases.

Hint: You’ll want to give more of the big bills to the Customer than to the Shop Clerk, and you’ll probably want to give more change and smaller bills to the Shop Clerk than to the Customer to make the process of giving change simpler. You can also supplement with your own jar of change!

Step #5: Introduce a “Restock” Day

Want to take your child’s play up a level? Introduce a Restock Day after a certain amount of time has passed, like 30 minutes, or 5 Customer transactions. Use Page 4 of the Money Play Starter Kit to set up the rules ahead of time, including the wholesale cost of restocking the store.

This means two different things to the two different roles being played:

  • Shop Clerk: On Restock Day, they need to repurchase the items available in their store (the images on the cash register scroll). And if they don’t have enough money to? Then have them choose what they can afford to restock, while putting an “X” on a list to tell the Customer what is not available.
  • Customer: On Restock Day, these guys get a paycheck. Decide ahead of time what an appropriate amount would be to give to them based on their age and the context of this game.

Remember, the whole idea is to start getting your child to think about the world in terms of money. The activities and steps above will help them to do that through the food they eat, and store transactions that they have probably watched you go through over the years.

So, which step are you most interested in implementing? Any other ideas you came up with after reading through these? I’d love to hear about them below.

Do you DIY your kid's toy cash register play? Kids do pretty well with pretend grocery store play. But why not take that up a notch by introducing more intentional money play with your kid's toy cash register? Get my FREE Money Player Starter Kit to show you how. |