This blog is where we share our homeschooling journey. Our style is eclectic, employing strategies like notebooking, workboxing, and some relaxed unschooling I like to call organic or free-range learning.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Allowance Game –Review

My daughter is at the age where she does her own transactions when buying toys, food, etc. However, she has difficulty remembering coin values, routinely mixes up quarters and nickels, and often gets confused switching from counting by fives to counting by ones when she has multiple denominations. As unschoolers, workbooks aren’t our go-to for teaching these concepts (and we had little success with it during our “school-at-home” phase). Since Bri was frustrated by her lack of money know-how, I decided to look for a fun way to reinforce the basics.

Enter The Allowance Game by Lakeshore Learning Materials. ($16.99 on Amazon.) This board game can be played by 2-4 players, suggested ages 5-11. The object of the game is to be the first player to save up $20 in allowance and earnings.

The board and play is reminiscent of Monopoly. You move a token around and either earn or pay out money depending on what square you land on. The play “money” includes coins as well as cash and looks quite similar to the real thing. There’s an option to let everyone be their own banker, and we play that way so Bri can learn to make her own change.

Bri was very excited to get this game, and we have played many rounds in the couple of weeks we've had it. Like Monopoly, sometimes the game is over pretty quick, while other times it takes forever for someone to get to $20. Several types of earning and spending are covered. Earn money for birthdays and allowance or by doing specific chores, like babysitting. Deposit money in a savings account and accrue interest. Or buy a lemonade stand and earn money from other players. Spending can happen for shopping or activities, but money can also be lost or paid out in fines. There's the overdue library book square, for instance, where one must not only pay a fine, but lose a turn.

Within the first game I noticed Bri was already grabbing appropriate numbers of dimes without counting onesy-twosy. She’d equated two quarters automatically as fifty cents, which impressed me since she’s had particular trouble skip counting quarters. She was learning without even realizing it—she was too busy having fun.
We’ve had this game for a couple weeks now and have played many times. She continues to hone her money skills and enjoy playing. I expect that as she perfects counting the small stuff, she will lose interest in favor of games like Monopoly or Life. For now, we’re quite satisfied.

You might be wondering why we don’t just teach with real money rather than buying a game. We do sometimes play “store”, which Bri loves, but I prefer play money for that as well. We don’t keep lots of denominations of cash on hand, for one thing. Plus, real money is so danged dirty that I’m not wild about playing with it. Beyond this, while Bri does do real transactions, it isn’t constant enough for the concepts to stick. Even playing store involves a lot more play than money-changing. There’s nothing wrong with that! However, this game offers a lot more exposure to money changing from minute to minute, so it’s a more intensive experience. Finally, Bri gets anxious and embarrassed in front of vendors when she isn’t sure what she’s doing. This game is improving her automaticity without the stress so she’ll be more confident dealing with the real thing.