If you’re the parent of a school-aged child, you know that a major skill most children struggle with is learning how to make change. This is also a challenge for some teachers to teach. When I was teaching 2nd grade I came up with a game that really helped my children understand a little better.
Children love to engage in dramatic play/games and I tried my hardest to allow them to do this during center time in the classroom. Games and role playing are huge learning tools! When I first began teaching I also waited tables at night at our local Applebee’s (further evidence that teachers are not paid enough). My students were aware of my second job and were always very interested about it. I thought I would take advantage of this interest and use it to grab their attention, hence my Dining Out game was invented.
Baby Wipe Container-Free if you have babies! If not, use an empty tissue box.
To Go Menu(s) from your favorite restaurant-FREE
Play Money (you can print some from or buy some at the Dollar Store)-Free or $1
1. Have your child decorate the outside of the wipe container to look like his/her favorite restaurant.
2. Place to go menus inside with fake money.
3. Assign roles of waitress and dining guests. You can have as many guests as you like and you can rotate the roles.
4. Take turns ordering off the menu and then “paying” for your meal. The waitress will need to make change from the money that the dining guest pays with and the guest will need to double check the change they receive. This helps everyone involved practice their change making skills and also reinforces double checking your work.
It’s a simple but effective game. You can also change the prices in the menus since most of them end in .99 or .49 and the kids will catch on fast what amount of change needs to be given. This game also reinforces reading skills as there are sure to be some words they need to sound out while selecting their food.
Adaptations for younger children:
My 2 year old obviously can’t play this game. However I can begin working on his money skills by teaching him to count different sets of items and eventually counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s. After that we can begin working on simply identifying different coins and paper money.