Practice money math by setting up your own store or restaurant! Great practice with money math, counting change, adding, subtracting, and store etiquette.

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One of my five-year-old’s favorite things to do is to play money math. From a very young age he has loved collecting, saving, and counting coins. He was thrilled when I taught him how much each coin is worth and was even more thrilled when we set up games where he could “buy” items of his choice.

One of the most engaging games we play together is Build Your Own Cafe. It gives him an opportunity to practice money math without me going out of my way much to set up the game. We often play this game on busy days when we don’t have much time to focus on math during regular homeschool hours.

Practice money math by setting up your own store or restaurant! Great practice with money math, counting change, adding, subtracting, and store etiquette.

How to Play Build Your Own Cafe: Money Math Practice

During regular meal or snack time, make labels for each food that lists the price of that food. You can also make labels for cups, bowls, cutlery, and drinks. Set any price you like, depending on your child’s age and experience with money math. As your child selects each food item they must pay you the listed price for that food. This is, of course, a game, and the money is all given back at the end. Using play money is also a fun option. You can also switch roles so that your child is the cashier and you are the customer.

Vary the Difficulty of Money Math

This is a game that can easily be modified for children of different ages.

  • For young children who are just learning about money math, make the prices multiples of 5 and 10. Make the prices the same as the coin denominations. (In the United States that’s $0.01, $0.05, $0.10, and $0.25.)
  • At age five we are at a stage where I like to have my son count out lots of random numbers and even multiply a little bit. (Apple slices for $0.12 per slice means he has to multiply by 12 if he wants more than one slice.) It’s always interesting to see what kind of coin combinations he comes up with to get to a certain number!
  • For older children it would be helpful to teach them how to make change with the child as the cashier and the adult as the customer. If the total price of your food is $2.32 hand your child $3 and have them give you the correct change. This is a skill that even adults have trouble with! Imagine what a valuable skill you are teaching them at an early age.

My son begs me to play money math often. I don’t mind because it’s easy to quickly make labels. He has a cup full of spare change that he uses to play. I can usually collect his money as I serve food to his little sister!

If you are looking for more fun with money check out our science experiment where we tested how many drops of water we could fit on each different coin. It includes a free printable worksheet!

STEM Saturday

By | 2017-03-17T12:53:53+00:00 April 25th, 2015|Math, Play, STEM Saturday|6 Comments


  1. Erin- Table for Seven April 27, 2015 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    What a great idea! Thanks for sharing at Inspire Me Mondays…make sure to come on back next week 🙂

  2. Eileen Teo April 28, 2015 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    This is a very clever ideas! Thank you for sharing it with us #Pintorials

  3. Jeannine @ waddleeahchaa May 1, 2015 at 5:57 am - Reply

    So much fun! What a great way to learn real world math.

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