Kid money lessons come in many shapes and forms, though hands-on activities and games are one of our family’s favorite way to teach our kids about money. Recently, we started playing Monopoly with our first grader. It is so much fun to see him learn about math, money, and financial strategy. Here’s why I love using the board game Monopoly to teach kids about money.
What is Monopoly?
I think everyone here is familiar with the classic board game, but if not, here is a quick rundown.
The goal of the game is to bankrupt the other players – to be the last player with money. How do you do that?
Each side of the square board is divided into 10 small rectangles representing specific properties, railroads, utilities, a jail, and various other places and events. At the start of the game, each player is given a fixed amount of play money; the players then move around the board according to the throw of a pair of dice. Any player who lands on an unowned property may buy it, but, if he or she lands on a property owned by another player, rent must be paid to that player. Certain non-property squares require the player landing on them to draw a card that may be favourable or unfavourable. If a player acquires a monopoly—that is, all of a particular group of properties—that player may purchase improvements (houses or hotels) for those properties; improvements add substantially to a property’s rental fee. A player continues to travel around the board until he or she is bankrupt. Bankruptcy results in elimination from the game. The last player remaining on the board is the winner (source).
The beauty of the game – and why it has been a huge hit since it came on the market in 1935 – is it is simple enough for kids to understand but also incredibly strategic. It involves “roll of the dice” chance, but also elements of deal-making, risk-assessment, and strategic thinking.
It is such a fun tool to use to teach kids about money! Why? How? Here are six money lessons kids can learn by playing Monopoly.
1. Basic Math Facts
To understand money, kids need to understand basic math facts. Playing Monopoly is a great way to practice (and reiterate) basic math facts such as adding the two dice together and counting money.
We let our first grader be the “banker,” which means he gets extra practice counting money and adding/subtracting. He is a little slower than mom or dad counting out the money, but it’s awesome practice for him to figure out equations such as $50 – $27 or how to break down larger bills into smaller amounts.
2. Counting Money
In today’s credit card and electronic world, kids are not as exposed to paper money. Monopoly provides hands on practice with counting and reading money. It’s also a great opportunity to teach basic money lessons such as “two $50’s equal one $100 bill.”
3.Spending Money to Make Money
The goal in Monopoly is to bankrupt your fellow players – to be the last person standing with money. To achieve this goal, you have to spend money.
When we first started playing, our first grader was very hesitant to spend his money (his money personality is much more of a saver than a spender). But, he soon learned that he needed properties, railroads, utilities, houses, and hotels to collect money from the other players.
4. Overspending Can Get You in Trouble
In Monopoly, you have to spend money to make money, but you can’t overspend too quickly. You have to make strategic decisions about when to buy and when to pass. You need to have enough cash on hand to cover any expenditures or unfavorable “chance” cards.
What happens when you overspend? You may have to mortgage properties to the bank or sell properties to other players. Great money lessons for life.
5. Understanding Motives
This is perhaps my favorite money lesson Monopoly teaches – understanding motives behind the wheeling and the dealing. My first grader isn’t super savvy with the negotiating (yet), but he sees my husband and I haggle over properties and is starting to learn the art of the deal. What I also love about the game is – just like life – nothing is really off limits when it comes to buying and selling.
6. Dealing with Disappointment
Lastly, playing Monopoly teaches kids that life isn’t always fair. We keep going to “Jail,” we pull an unfavorable “Chance” card, or we keep landing on the property with all the hotels. It teaches how to do deal with disappointment and find opportunities to succeed. Awesome life and money lessons for all of us!
Do you play Monopoly with your kids? If so, what money or life lessons do you see them learning? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.
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