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Discovering money

Financial skills

  • Distinguishing between coins and bills
  • Determining the cost of goods and services

Activity summary

For children ages 6 to 7

Identifying and understanding the value of coins and bills is a fundamental financial skill. At this age, your child can already tell bills and coins apart easily and knows their value.

The money contained in a coin bank can be used to teach numbers, addition and subtraction. Coin banks also help children become accustomed to saving.

3 simple tips for teaching financial basics

  • Does your child have his or her own coin bank? Why not help count the money using the Counting Sheet? In addition to being a great tool for teaching the value of coins, the grid is also handy for calculating how much money is in the coin bank and recording deposits and withdrawals if your child uses the money to make a purchase or a deposit into an account.
  • Rolling coins so they can be deposited in an account at a financial institution before the coin bank is full is a good habit to adopt. It's another way to help your child learn about coins and addition.
  • Account statements are also useful tools for tracking savings because they show the progress from those first cents deposited to the total amount that has accumulated in the account.

It's a mystery, isn't it? Your child is curious and wants to know where the coins and bills in his or her coin bank come from.

To begin learning about money, your child may observe the shapes, colours, materials and textures of the bills and coins shown in the illustrations in the Canadian Money file. The activity is well-suited to visual and kinesthetic children, who learn more easily through experimentation.

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has created a short film that explains how money is made. It's a great way to make clear that money doesn't grow on trees! Watch the video

To learn how money has changed and about collectable coins, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website.

Children love to play store—pretending to enter transactions on a cash register and counting out change. In addition to being a great opportunity to teach financial lessons, the game helps children become familiar with rounding amounts of money and gain confidence when determining the value of coins and bills.

Does your child ask questions about the money changing hands during purchases? The Where does money come from? video will help your child better understand the link between the money earned from working and the money that is in an account at a financial institution.

“I introduced the grocery store game to my kids a while ago. With their help, I set up a small store in a corner of their play area with some shelves, canned goods and cereal boxes that we glued tags on for prices. My next step will be to teach them basic fractions with the coins they have saved up.”
- Henri, father of Mona, age 6, and Rose, age 8

“I got the idea of setting up a school shop game for my students from talking to other teachers at the school. They earn money each week by doing their individual tasks and they can use it to buy items (books, pencils, notebooks, etc.) from the school shop.”
- Denise, first-grade teacher

“It's a good way for my children to understand taxes. I remember trying to explain it to them and failing. With concrete tools like examples of Canadian money, they're even interested in percentages!”
- Sonia, mother of Raphaël, age 9, and Betty, age 6

“My daughter always confused nickels and dimes. She couldn’t tell the difference between them and would make mistakes when I asked her to count the coins in her bank. After playing cash register with her, she finally understands the value of each coin.”
- Hakim, father of Sara, age 7