Saving My Allowance (Age 6)

The Activities

  1. Topic: Money, Negative Numbers: Less Than Zero by Murphy. In this book, Perry the Penguin wants to save 9 clams to buy a scooter, but ends up borrowing money from his friends and going negative. The kids really enjoyed this book, and eagerly followed along with the graphs in the book.
  2. Topic: Money. I ran a pretend store with items of different prices. The kids got $3 each as allowance, and could buy something or save their money. I kept track of each kid’s total on an allowance chart. The kids worked with me to add their new allowance and subtract the money they spent.
  3. Topic: Advanced Money. The adding and subtracting in the store activity were too easy for one kid, so I gave him a harder problem to work on. Otherwise he couldn’t stop himself from answering for everyone else.  His problem was: If you have $10, and each pack of cards costs $0.75, how many packs can you buy?IMG_20160306_174827Topic: Sorting. The kids worked together to sort the cards 1 – 100. They were trying to beat their previous record of 19 minutes.IMG_20160306_174806

How did it go?

We had all five kids this week. Everyone was very attentive, and enjoyed all the activities.


I set out a ‘store’ with a bunch of small toys I found in my daughter’s room. I was very clear that the kids did not get to keep the toys they bought (my daughter would kill me!).

First I gave each kid $3 allowance, then asked if anyone wanted to buy anything? Three of the five kids bought something the first round. The other two kids saved their money.

No one tried to go negative, even though the book we had read was about a penguin spending more money than he had.

Next I put out some more toys in the store, and had the kids add their new allowance ($3) to the amount they currently had. Then we had a few more rounds of buying and getting allowance.

One kid decided to save all his money every time. He said there were so many things he wanted to buy, that he couldn’t pick any. He did enjoy having more money than anyone else.

The kids have gotten much better at adding since circle started last year. But several still needed help adding 3 to $15, for example. I showed them how to count up 3: 16, 17, 18.

Subtraction is much harder for everyone. Some kids could do problems like 5 – 3, but I helped other kids by showing it on my fingers.

Advanced Shopping

One kid had no problem adding and subtracting, but was having a problem with telling other people the answers before they had a chance.  I gave him a different problem, which he worked out on the floor. If you have $10, and each pack of cards costs $0.75, how many packs can you buy? He solved this by repeatedly subtracting 75 from 1000. At the end he counted up how many subtractions he had done, and found you could buy 13 packs, with 25 cents left over.


Everyone was very excited to try sorting again. We discussed strategy beforehand, and said that it had worked better when all the cards were out on the floor. Then we started sorting, and only 2 of the 5 kids laid out their cards :-).  This time there were some new strategies: several kids started collecting all cards of one decade, for example, one girl had all the nineties. A boy had the seventies and the eighties.  The girl with the nineties actually sorted them in her hands, but they got mixed up again when she handed them off to the other kids.

Ultimately, the kids beat their old time by 4 minutes, and finished all 100 cards in just 15 minutes. If we follow up on the new bucket sorting strategy, we should be able to go faster.





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