Session 5: Spending, Sharing, and Saving

You can help children understand more about money by talking about three ways people use it: spending, sharing, and saving.

Welcome to Session 5: Spending, Sharing, and Saving 

In this session, explore resources, hands-on activities, and talking points to teach children about the different ways people use money

1. Talk Together 

Talk Together 

You can help children understand more about money by talking about three ways people use it: spending, sharing, and saving. 

Spending means using money to get something in return. We spend money when we buy things or pay for services.  

Sharing means giving money, time, or talents to others. Sharing can be a tough concept for young children. It is something learned gradually over time and through different experiences. You already talk about sharing in your program when you discuss taking turns on the playground, reading books, or playing with toys. You can also talk to children about how we share money—like making a donation or sharing 50 cents of a dollar with a friend to buy a treat. 

Saving means putting money away and not using it for a period of time. Saving a little money at a time can really add up. One important part of learning to save is learning to wait.  

Point out different ways children can practice patience while having to wait. When they’re waiting in line, you can play “I Spy,” or guessing games, sing a song together, or practice mindfulness activities. You might ask questions like: What are three things you see that are blue? What do you hear outside? Let’s take a second to stretch our bodies tall and strong. How do you feel? 

2. Explore Together 

Explore Together 

Watch the Spend, Share, Save video with children.


  • Elmo has three special jars. What are they for? 
  • What is Elmo saving up for? 

Watch the Helping Others video with children. 


  • What are some ways the people in the video help others? 
  • What are some ways we can help others in our community? 

3. Play Together

Play Together 

Spending Activities 

Set up a pretend grocery store or restaurant with play food. Invite children to make signs, menus, or price lists, or use coupons from local supermarket flyers and have children practice their cutting skills by cutting out the pictures and coupons. Hand out the pretend bills and coins, providing children with the same fixed amount. Then, children can use their pretend money to order and pay for food at the restaurant or “buy” items they would choose for a picnic lunch or a healthy breakfast.  

Sharing Activities

Elmo pictogram Share a Smile 

Encourage children to share their time and talents with others. As a class, you might have children make greeting cards for people in a hospital or senior center or get well soon cards for a classmate or school staff member. Ask children how they feel when someone gives them a handmade gift. Talk about how it feels good to make someone else happy when you are doing the giving. 

Share Events 

Raise awareness for events in your community, such as canned-food drives, coat drives, park clean-ups, or fun runs. Consider participating as a group to strengthen your school or center community. Explain that sometimes, people may give their time or money to help others who may need it (e.g., like a helping a friend whose house was damaged after a rainstorm, or purchasing groceries for a family that needs some help.) 

conversation bubbles Share Ideas 

Invite children to make suggestions to their friends and classmates. What book did they enjoy that a friend might like to read, too? What snack or recipe do they like that they would recommend someone try? Have they learned something about playing a sport that someone new might find helpful? Encourage children to ask and offer helpful information to one another.  

Saving Activities

piggy bank Start a Classroom Savings Jar 

Draw a “savings jar” and cutout star shapes to illustrate the concept of saving over time. Work with your class to set a goal and ways to meet it. For example, every time the class puts their snacks away in time, they get a star. After 10 stars are in the “jar,” the class gets a treat such as extra choice or outdoor time, pajama day, or a special show-and-tell.  

Plant Grow a Garden 

Studying plants and gardening are perfect opportunities to teach children patience and observe how things grow over time. Plant seeds and help children keep track of their growth. You might consider measuring the plants each week, taking photographs, and drawing the progress. Reading books about how different fruits grow and the benefits of waiting until they’re ripe are also easy ways to introduce the concept of waiting, saving, and growing. 

4. Communicating with Caregivers 

Communicating with Caregivers 

Consider sharing these resources to help parents and other caregivers reinforce the concepts of spending, sharing, and saving at home with their children: 

Making a Plan Together — In this video, Cookie Monster’s mom shows Cookie Monster how to make a family plan for the week that includes what they’re going to do and how much money they will need. 

Saving, Spending, Sharing Workshop — You can use this resource to encourage families to spend, share, and save at home!