The lesson of the day was the use of real money. My oldest wanted to go shopping with the allowance I had been implementing since the summer. I give them five dollars every two weeks since this is the time they spend at my place. The other two weeks they are with their father but the children do not get an allowance there.
Years before, their father and I had discussed the issue of allowance which got confused with getting paid for doing work around the house so it was never put into place. I finally decided that I wanted my children to learn the money management concepts of saving and spending as well as sharing. I also wanted to keep this separate from any work they do around the house as I believe children should not be paid for chores.
The concept of money is taught at school from first grade. As such, I wanted my children start learning the monetary value of both paper money and coins in a real life situation instead of simply as drawings of coins on paper. Tangible items are a greater motivator than guessing a correct answer on an assignment.
At first my oldest wanted to get Shopkins. On our first shopping trip earlier this summer, I discovered what these were and let her buy them but did not think small plastic 'super cute, super tiny, grocery-themed collectibles' was a good use of her money. She informed me she could play with them and trade them but I still did not see their purpose.
I suggested she think of something else which might have more value so she requested we go to Barnes and Noble where she intended on buying a small Beanie Boo. Once again, I wanted her to think before making a purchase and to question whether she really, truly needed one more stuffed animal though I was not against her buying one.
As the girls were busy running around looking at everything the bookstore had to offer, Sage and I ventured into the learning section since he wanted a math workbook. We thumbed through the ones intended for first grade but Sage wanted nothing to do with those 'easy peasy' books. Instead, we selected one for second grade which he worked on as soon as we arrived home.
Sage ventured off into the land of the colouring and activity books whilst I sauntered about looking at the colouring books intended for grownups. I had noticed this trend in Ireland this past summer and remembered the mandala colouring book at the apartment in Berlin a year ago where Saffron coloured two pages and cut them out to give to me.
When I caught up with the girls, they surprised me by telling me they were pooling their monies in order to purchase a larger item which they could use together. I looked at the large box and inquired about the price. They each contributed around twelve dollars for a colour changing lamp which works on battery power where they first had to design, paint, and then assemble it. I was impressed with their choice and the decision to combine their allowances.
The girls walked up to the register to pay and Saffron handed the clerk two twenty dollar bills. When Saffron got her change, she had to figure out how much to give back to her sister. It ended up that Cinnamon owed Saffron 87 cents which she paid her with a dollar and where Saffron now had to make change for the dollar. This discussion was rather confusing for the girls but I am guessing with more of these shopping trips they will learn the applied math skills they need for their future.