For Teachers

Money Education for Pre-K

Here are the financial principles and money lesson plans for pre-K students that you should be teaching!

teacher-preschool

For many preschoolers, money is a tough idea to grasp. These kids are still only 3 or 4 years old, beginning to learn about how the world works, and something as specific as financial literacy is going to be challenging. However, it is truly never too early to start teaching these little ones general concepts about money: what it looks like, how it works, and where you might use it. Teachers can develop fun and engaging lessons to expose kids to specific topics that will benefit them in kindergarten and the years that follow. The overarching goal is to familiarize children with coins and bills, helping them realize that money has value and can purchase goods and services. There are many ways to lay the foundation for these little learners, from music to games to hands-on activities. This guide will explain what subjects to teach, but more importantly, how to deliver high-quality instruction that sticks with these Pre-K kids.

Songs

Music is a fantastic tool to use with preschoolers for many purposes. Money education is no exception. By engaging rhythmically and singing along with songs, kids remember crucial terms and ideas and make connections that will lead to greater learning down the road. Whether lyrics are about piggy banks, coins, or grocery stores, there are many ways to use music in your curriculum and begin to show them how money works. Children will have fun, sing out loud, and learn the concepts you want them to understand for a bright financial future. You can find plenty of pre-made music choices online for Pre-K kids, or you can make up your own lyrics if you want to get creative. Regardless, your students will look forward to singing and learning about money this time of day.

There are limitless opportunities to provide financial education through songs and music. Some of the possibilities include:

  • Find or create a song about coins. Many fitting resources go over pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, with catchy music and engaging harmonies that kids will love to sing.
  • Play music about shopping in the store. You will find (or you can make) short verses about buying specific foods in the grocery store to show kids how they can use money to purchase products, goods, and services.
Pre-K Lesson Plan #1

Songs About Money Education

Children’s Books

As you continue educating your Pre-K students about financial topics, you will find a surprising number of children’s books about money. You will notice several sub-topics, including entrepreneurship, trade, budgeting, and balancing how you use money. The great thing about these books is that many are entertaining, have fun characters, and exciting illustrations, engaging students while they learn financial concepts. You can teach about planning for unanticipated obstacles, avoiding wasteful spending, and the value of work with these literary pieces, ensuring that your young students get a solid economic background at a young age.

As you look around for the ideal money education books for Pre-K students, you will face a vast assortment of options. You can build a classroom library with books that teach both money concepts and responsibility, helping to build up your students’ financial confidence. Some of the top book topics include:

  • Books with facts about money, how to earn cash, and even introducing investing and interest (in kid-friendly terms and themes).
  • Literary works that show the history of barter and trade, how coins and bills are made, and how to count the right amounts to spend in stores.
  • Books that teach the importance of delayed gratification, as this skill is one that students can use their entire life with money.
Pre-K Lesson Plan #2

Using Books In Money Education

Games

Pre-K students are still very young children, and kids of this age love to play games. Many games and interactive activities revolve around financial education, giving teachers unlimited options. You can do so much with these fun learning opportunities, whether you use them for a focused lesson, during downtime, or as a small group instructional occasion. Educators can find games that focus on trading so kids realize the importance of resources and how members of a society can benefit from others and meet their basic needs. You may also want to play store, where kids pretend to run a grocery store, and kids buy the products they want and need.

You can find digital games effortlessly with today’s modern technology, or if you prefer, there are traditional board games and time-tested activities that show kids about money concepts. Some of these are:

  • Board games about cash flow. Starting young and learning how to create cash streams and manage your money wisely is essential, and these games show the ins and outs of managing money.
  • Create the old-fashioned lemonade stand. Have students help you decorate a setup to “sell lemonade,” letting the students handle the payments they get for giving classmates frosty drinks. They will learn about storing cash, counting coins correctly, and setting prices fairly while making a profit.
Pre-K Lesson Plan #3

Using Games In Money Education

Workers

As Pre-K students continue their economic quest, they learn about the many jobs in various communities. You can go over public service careers, such as police, fire, construction, and sanitation industries, showing kids how there are many jobs to choose from in their future. Even though small kids may not understand more advanced economic concepts like labor, payroll, and salary differences, you can explain these things in easy-to-understand language, so it all begins to sink in for these students. Teachers may get into the idea that people work for money, and that some jobs pay more than others, but various careers are more enjoyable and can lead to personal happiness.

As you dive into the concept of labor and careers, you can approach teaching it in several ways. Many resources are available that highlight pay, responsibilities, and what daily life is like for people in different jobs. Teachers can show details of these careers through:

  • Have students role-play different careers. They can demonstrate their understanding of what different people do in society (doctors, fire, police officers, teachers, and professional athletes). As they learn more, you can enhance their understanding by explaining that these individuals contribute to humanity and are rewarded for their work.
  • Have guest speakers or online videos that describe different jobs. They can over what they do to help others, how these professionals make money, and what kinds of things they can buy with their paycheck. These facts will help students understand why people work and raise their curiosity.
Pre-K Lesson Plan #4

Workers

Ways to Use Money

As your students learn about the basics of money, they should understand there are different things you can do with their money when they get older. You can describe how adults receive paychecks for doing work and then decide what to do with their cash. The typical ways to put money somewhere are spending, saving, or donating it. You can go into depth about the benefits of each while showing them there is a balance between these three categories that are ideal for many individuals.

Teachers may show their students specific examples of how people manage their money. You can reach these goals through:

  • Give the students three jars which they can decorate. Label the first one, “Spend,” letting kids decide how much of their budget they want to use for buying goods and services. The second one they can label “Save,” and they can set aside a specific amount to put away for later use. Kids can mark “Give” on the last jar, and teachers can explain that this one is for donating to charity or those who need assistance. This activity is a great start for understanding the many uses of money and how vital it will be in their future.
Pre-K Lesson Plan #5

Ways to Use Money

Counting

While counting is typically a significant component in any preschooler’s educational program, teachers can quickly shift the focus to money. Kids love to count with tangible objects, and coins are ideal for these activities. Money increments are perfect for counting (pennies are worth 1 cent, nickels are 5, dimes are 10, etc., making it easy to count logically). If you want to use paper versions of coins, that is great, or you can go with real coins so the students can better understand how coins feel and which ones are which.

You can find many activities for counting – in textbooks, worksheets, and on websites – and you can easily locate money-specific ones. The best counting activities focus on coins at this age, as the numbers are smaller and more manageable, but you can also get into skip counting and basic addition. You can:

  • Use piles of different coins. Have students sort and count, reaching target totals. If they come to the correct amount, they can buy rewards: toys, books, colored pencils, or whatever you decide is best for your class.
Pre-K Lesson Plan #6

Counting

More Resources for Pre-K Teachers

About the Author

Peter Brown

Peter Brown is a National Board Certified teacher with over two decades of experience in the classroom. He loves working with students of all ages in many subjects, but particularly in practical areas like money education, to help kids achieve their goals. When he is not teaching or writing about financial literacy, you can find him surfing, hiking, skiing, or traveling to new places.

Last updated on: April 16, 2022