Using Legos to Teach Kids Financial Literacy
Article first published as Using Legos to Teach Kids Financial Literacy on Technorati.
A few days ago I stopped at the gas station with my boys to fill up the tank. With the price of gas continuing to rise, I shrieked when the cost of a fill up topped $50. Luckily, I drive a hybrid so I don’t need to fill up the tank as frequently (phew). As I handed the gas attendant a credit card, my 7-year old caught my reaction and asked, “Mom, what’s wrong? Isn’t the gas free because you’re not paying with dollar bills?” It was at that moment I realized I should teach my son a thing or two about money.
As the boys and I drove from errand to errand, my son barraged me with questions…”Why do you have to pay if you use a credit card? Where does the money go? How does the gas man know that he will get the money? Does somebody go to the bank to pay the gas man for you?”
On and on, the questions droned. Though I tried my best to answer my son’s questions, plain verbal explanations were not cutting it. Financial literacy is just too complex to teach with words alone. Enter creativity. I started thinking about the best way to teach financial literacy to a 7-year old. In considering what my son enjoys doing and is able to relate to, I pictured the box of Legos sitting on my dining room table.
When we arrived home I invited my son to use the Legos to build our house, a bank, my workplace, and a few toys. I then asked him to pick out a few smaller Legos to represent money, a credit card, and members of our family. Using the Lego props, I walked my son through a simple storyline to show the flow of money and what happens if you spend more than you earn.
Here’s the storyline we acted out:
- Mommy goes to work
- She earns money
- Some money goes into the bank and some money is spent on toys
- Sometimes mommy pays with cash, sometimes she pays with a credit card
- If mommy pays with a credit card, at the end of the month she receives a bill
- Mommy uses the money she put in the bank to pay the credit card bill
Once my son grasped the basic storyline, I added some plot twists.
- What happens if Mommy stops working?
- What happens if Mommy spends more than she earns?
By the end of our playtime, my son had a better an appreciation of money and the financial system. Now when we go out, my son probes whether or not we really need the item we’re considering buying.
Fiscal responsibility…compliments of the gas station, a credit card, Legos, and a little imagination!