Our nation is seeing an expanding interest in healthy foods that are grown in local family and small business gardens. This link will help you find one in your area: https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets .
In my area, starting in June, there are several farmers markets that offer a wide variety of seasonal goodies to take home. Everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, to canned jams and pickled garlic, to pints of honey. It is an explosion of different flavors and textures for the taste buds. Though many vendors will take credit cards several of them still prefer the old fashion method of paying with cash. This can lead to a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about how currency is used for exchanged.
My boys enjoyed visiting the farmers market in their youth both locally and wherever we traveled. We would gather some loose change from around the house then stop by the local bank to get some dollar bills, mostly one’s and five’s to make it easy for counting. On Main Street we would visit the different vendors to check out all of the yummy items offered. Larger items such as watermelons we would leave that until the end of the shopping, though reflecting back we should have learned from some of the other families and simply brought our little red wagon.
When we would find something that looked tasty, there would be a discussion about the price to make sure that we had enough money and whether we wanted to spend that much. We encouraged the boys to count out the amount of dollars and cents needed to purchase the item. Mathematical concepts such as addition and subtraction were practiced in this fun and interactive manner. We all got to interact with other people and the boys were able to satisfy their hunger…and…for anyone with young children, you know this can be a leading factor in many decisions. These interactions helped to bring the abstract concept of large numbers, 100/500/1000, into the real world for them because these numbers simply became $1/$5/$10. Quarters, dimes, and nickels were quickly added to figure out how to make change.
Some activities to try before venturing out into the Farmers Market are:
- Practice exchanging coins. Start out simple with exchanging pennies for nickels, dimes and quarters.
- Move up to creating different ways to exchange the coins for a dollar.
- Model the use of cash when possible while shopping for small purchases.
- Think about simple games that you can play using coins.
- If you child has a piggy bank full of coins offer to exchange them for larger coins and dollar bills.
Helping children how to understand the impact of money will assist them in making wise purchases as they grow into adults. Both of my boys, now adults, are very comfortable with handling currency because they were able to explore this concept in a real world situation that was in a low risk atmosphere where they interacted with adults who supported their exploration of money.