Just a couple of decades ago, our main currency was cash and walking into a bank, meeting with a teller, and updating a bank book were commonplace activities. Today though, banking and finances are changing quickly. Kids need to know about debit and credit cards, online banking and ATM machines and that we can send money anywhere around the world with the click of a button.
In a world that is overwhelmingly digital, how can parents teach kids financial literacy in tangible, tactile ways?

Start with everyday experiences

Thankfully, parents can use day to day experiences as a launching point for learning about money. The Pretend and Play Teaching ATM Bank from Learning Resources gives kids the chance to practice using a bank account and an ATM machine while they play. These are important skills for the day they open their own bank accounts and manage a debit card.

Playing with the bank

My kids were enthralled by the machine. First, they got to know all its capabilities, and there are many! They loved using the debit card (just like mom!). One of the first things the girls did was run to their dress-up clothes box and find purses to hold the bills and coins (again, just like mom!)
We talked about debit cards and pin numbers. What are they? Why is it important to keep a debit card and pin number safe? How do you think you would keep yours secure?

ATM with purseThe girls practiced putting in the pin number for the debit card and hitting enter. The ATM machine sparks to life and gives an update on what is currently in the bank account.

We divvied up the coins and the bills between the two girls and they took turns making deposits. They were thrilled to discover the ATM machine calculated how much was in the bank account each time they deposited a coin. When it was time to deposit the paper bills, they practiced basic addition. Every time they put a bill in, they would add the amount on the keypad and the ATM would provide a new total.

The process is similar for withdrawals. As kids update the amount of money they are taking out of the account on the keypad, the ATM machine calculates the new total. Practicing basic math skills with a practical real-life application – a win!

The girls also launched into make-believe scenarios. One person was the cashier at a store, while the other found the item they wanted, then went to the ATM machine to get their money out for their purchase.

ATM Calculator

As the girls filled up the bank account and then withdrew money, they were learning the basic principles of earning, saving and spending.

Feeding the ATM with bills

Money sense questions to ask your kids:

  • How do we earn money?
  • Why would we save money?
  • Why is it important to respect and understand money?
  • What happens if we take out all the money in the bank account?
  • How can we fill up a bank account?

How will you use an ATM machine to spark creative, imaginative learning about finances with your kids?