At the CHAP curriculum fair this year I picked up a treasure. Along with my copy of "Created to be His Helpmeet" by Debbie Pearl I received a copy of Debbie Pearl's "My Favorite Homeschooling Ideas" audio CD. I have listened to this audio about six times! I enjoy the way Debbie speaks so soothingly. I love the excited way she speaks of home educating her children. You can tell that she really enjoyed her time with her children.
I'd like to tell you how we adapted one of the ideas from this audio. Debbie mentions that her children had money jars and they would buy snacks like raisins. This sparked an idea of how we would implement this in our home.
I grabbed three small plastic containers and placed a little change in each. Right now, the boys containers have three quarters, three nickels, two dimes, and four pennies in them. I explained to the boys that from now on, if they wanted a snack between meals, they would have to buy them! We would develop a list of available snacks and the price for each item. When they wanted a snack, they would have to determine the cost of the item. Then they would give me their money, and tell me if they needed any change. After this transaction, they could have their snack! The boys were thrilled with this new game and quickly grabbed their money boxes and my label maker to put their names on their boxes.
This is not a program intended to curb snacking. I wanted it to be fun, and not to feel like a punishment. Actually, the way we are doing our money jars, the boys don't even know they are learning! With the prices we set on our snack list, the boys have plenty of money for their desired snacks. Also, each night, we renew the original amount of money in the jar for the next day. This way, they never run out of snack money.
We did, however, set some rules. You cannot buy a snack less than one hour before meal-time. You cannot buy more than one of an item per day. (I have a popcorn addicted son, who would munch bags and bags of popcorn each day.) And Mommy reserves the right to veto a snack at any time.
This has been a wonderful activity in our home! My oldest son was so excited about it that he told his friends from church, "Hey, guess what we're doing now? We have money jars and we buy snacks at our house!" And it has been great for money recognition, with which my youngest son used to struggle, and basic math. The boys have to do the addition in their heads to determine the cost of an item, or a combination of items. They also have to complete subtraction to determine the change that they are due. And they are so quick! It took no time at all for them to be making accurate change. Last week, while at a yard sale, my youngest son purchased a stuffed animal for $.75. He handed the seller a one dollar bill and said, "That will be one quarter back, please." He's so used to telling me what his snack change will be, that he did it at the yard sale!
We put our list on a sheet of cardstock and placed it in a clear magnetic frame on the refrigerator door. Items are priced at unusual numbers so that making change is a challenge. A bag of popcorn might be 26 cents, a freeze pop, maybe, 9 cents. Also, we have a charge for room service. If you want to purchase a snack, and have Mommy deliver it to you in the living room, there is an extra fee!
So, fill a plastic container with some spare change. Take an inventory of your snacks and make your list. This is practical consumer math at its finest!