Money is confusing, to say the least. Our favorite hands on way to learn about money is the Spare Change game -- there's a great payoff that kids love!

The Spare Change Game: Easiest Way to Learn About Money!

The Hmmmschooling Mom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to You can view our full affiliate disclosure here.

Learning about coins can be confusing, to say the least. Why is a dime smaller than a nickel if it’s worth more? How much is a nickel worth again? How many dimes make a dollar? What are two quarters and a penny worth? All these—and many other questions that get added when kids are older—is why we started playing the Spare Change game.

Why do we like the Spare Change game?

We—especially my children—love the Spare Change game, for very different reasons. I like it because it means my children understand money.

They love it because it fills up their wallets.

Teach your kids about money by playing the spare change game - The Hmmmschooling Mom

Way back in the beginning, the Spare Change game was played by me tossing out a coin to each boy and telling him if he could identify the coin and/or tell me what it was worth, he could keep it.

(They got one coin a day, and one chance to identify it.)

You wouldn’t believe how fast they learned the difference between a nickel and a dime.

The Spare Change game is flexible and grows with you.

As their money knowledge grew, I would toss out two coins to them. I would tell them if they could tell me the total of the two coins together, they could keep them.

(They got two coins a day, and one chance to identify the sum.)

You wouldn’t believe how fast they learned what a quarter and a dime is worth.

Money is confusing, to say the least. Our favorite hands on way to learn about money is the Spare Change game -- there's a great payoff that kids love!

When they got even better at money, I would toss out several coins (sometimes a small handful!) to each of them. If they could tell me what the total was of all the coins in their handful (one chance), they got to keep them.

You wouldn’t believe how fast they learned what a small handful of change can be worth.

My children got pretty darn good at counting coins and adding things up, and so I thought it was time to say goodbye to the Spare Change game.

Not so fast.

Need other ways to continue playing the Spare Change game?

There are plenty of ways to continue the Spare Change game. You can use it as a way to practice making change.

For instance, tell me the correct change that would be given if I bought a piece of candy for 42 cents and paid with a one dollar bill. If they can tell me (one chance), they keep the change that would be given.

You wouldn’t believe how good they got at making change.

When they get even more comfortable with money and math, you can also hand your kids the grocery flyer, give them a shopping list, and have them go through and figure out what the total bill would be (with tax, if necessary). Then have them make change from multiple different amounts of payment.

If the bill was $47.56, what would be the change given if I pay with a $50? Three $20s? A $100 dollar bill? (You’ll have to decide what they’re keeping in that instance.)

The trick to making the Spare Change game work is

1) you only give them one chance to answer, and,

2) as the amount of change they can potentially keep gets bigger, space out the spare change game. You want it to be educational, but you also don’t want to go broke.

Teach your kids about money with the Spare Change game - The Hmmmschooling Mom

The Spare Change game is a great hands-on, real life way to learn about how money works with a tangible payoff at the end.

(Heh. See what I did there?)

You wouldn’t believe how quickly my kids grasped their money concepts when we started playing this game.

Totally makes it worth having to refill my change jar.

Learning about money is such an important life skill. If you’re looking for other ways to teach your kids about how money works, you can check out my suggestions here:

Why We Decided to Pay Our Kids to Do Chores

How to Set Up an Extra Chores, Extra Cash System

Money is confusing, to say the least. Our favorite hands on way to learn about money is the Spare Change game -- there's a great payoff that kids love!

How have you taught your kids about money?

Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.


9 thoughts on “The Spare Change Game: Easiest Way to Learn About Money!”

  1. Haha~I love it!!! Do you know that not many adults can make change and have to rely on the cash register to think for them? I got to see this at the feed store when their power went out~they added up my purchases on paper, then did the math for my change. And it wasn't a difficult problem!! This is real life math~good job Mama!!

  2. Great idea! Reminded me of how I taught my daughter her colors. Rather how I got her to say the right colors because she thought it was funny to say the wrong color and see me frustrated. I got a bag of M&M's, pulled one out and asked her what color it was. She said the wrong color and I said no and popped it in my mouth. That went on for about 3 more M&M's and she never said the wrong color again.

  3. Spare Change was how we learned money too! Love it 🙂 Didn't think to take it to the making change level…that is something fun to think about, thanks.

  4. That’s so cool! Totally gonna try it. My kiddo sucks (wait can I say that in the comments?) with money in general! I think he would really like this game.

  5. What a cool idea! At our house, we give our children commission for some of the chores they do around the house. We have found that this is another way that they have learned to count money. Because they have some, they are motivated to learn how to count it so they can decide how to use it.

Comments are closed.