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Kids are Curious About Money, Business, and Investing

ITIPress.org – Soraya Nasrallah

“What does investing mean?” yelled the six-year-old son of an acquaintance of mine. I was at a local café talking with friends about my new book, “InvestorWiz”. During the conversation a variety of investment-related words came up which prompted the boy’s curiosity and subsequent interruption.

I don’t know much about children, but this boy must have been quite smart to have picked up on this word. Sadly, the father’s response was a less then enthusiastic, “You’ll learn about that much later”.  I should have stopped him and said, “Let’s teach him now!” Of course, that might not have been the best time for a lesson in business and investing, but the young man’s curiosity motivated me to create three fun learning activities that can be used to teach kids about money and business. Please note that this is best for children who have at least grasped the concept of money and have the appropriate focus and patience.

The Candy Bag Sample: Actually, my mom recommended this one. With your child, take a trip to the local food store with a pad and pen. Buy a favorite bag of candy. Let your youngster help out by asking him or her to read and write down the name of the item and original price. When you’ve returned home, count the amount of candy in the bag (inventory!). Here’s the crux of the lesson: show your child that by selling each individual piece (to another family member or neighbor) for a certain price he or she will end up with more money than the original cost of the whole bag of candy. Let them make the calculation of the difference between what was spent and what was brought in, figuring out the actual profit. By having the youngster write up the calculations and present those figures creatively (break out the construction paper, colored markers, glitter, etc.), you can easily give them a sense of pride and accomplishment.  As always, make them feel proud of their accomplishment! Of course, eating some of the candy is a nice prize at the end of the project.

Lemonade Stand: This activity is realistic and quite fun, and it could actually be profitable. Take your kid(s) to the store and let them have the calculator and show them how to add the cost of all items while selecting all the lemonade ingredients from a list you have both made. Don’t worry about the tax unless they are truly ready for it. It’s very important that everyone involved carefully record the money spent. The best solution is to have a color board where all the figures can be prominently posted. Setting up a creative and colorful lemonade stand is very important so your kids can really get into it! There are some good lessons in marketing and retail sales involved, too. Have the kids track the money that is coming in so that at the end they can add up the sales revenues and then figure out how close they are to actually making a profit. Even if there are no profits, calculating the losses is an equally important lesson. Make sure that there is a nice reward that will motivate them to sell their lemonade and make more money than what was spent!

Bake That Cookie!: Baking cookies for fun, profit, and learning. Making it fun for the children is very important. Start this project with a good cookie recipe. Then you and your kids can go shopping and write down the price of each item. Let them have the calculator so that they can start adding the price of all the needed items. Include some tissue paper and ribbons so that the cookies can be packaged nicely. These nicely wrapped baked goodies can be sold to friends and neighbors or even better, sold at a bake sale. This is a great activity for a group of kids in the neighborhood. When they’ve sold the cookies, have the participants calculate the profit. This is also a good time to calculate the loss for prematurely eaten cookies. Remember to give them an extra incentive or prize that was promised for their work in turning a profit! If they concentrate on that reward, they will be more willing to do the work! Happy Baking!

For a great cookie recipe, I turned to my good friend, Cindy. She is a professional pastry chef who has worked in some nationally-known restaurants. She also has her own cookbook coming out.  If you want this recipe, email her at dessertgirl21@yahoo.com

Studies have found that American kids are woefully lacking when it comes to knowledge about money and business.  Engaging your children in business and money matters early in life can give them a huge advantage as they get older.  While the activities above are more about business, the lessons learned are an outstanding introduction to the more sophisticated lessons of stocks and investing. Once your kids grasp the concepts of simple capitalism and business, their own curiosity might lead them to ask more questions about investing.





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