Easter is coming, and for many families, that means a weekend full of egg-coloring projects, egg hunts, candies and little treats. What many families overlook is that it’s also an opportunity to reinforce a few valuable financial concepts that will serve their children well in life without putting a damper on the fun of the occasion.
Here are four simple strategies to leverage the fun of Easter weekend into some useful financial lessons for kids.
Use plastic eggs to teach money skills. If you have young children, teach money math skills by using plastic eggs and putting small, varying amounts of coins in each. As you’re planning an egg hunt for the children, put a few coins of different denominations in each egg. After the egg hunting is done, ask the children how much money they found.
This will naturally encourage the youngsters to start counting up that change, learning about different denominations along the way. This game helps your children learn the different values of currency, how a little bit here and a little bit there builds up to a lot of value, and how addition skills are useful in the real world. Plus, they’ll have a bit of pocket money for something fun in the coming weeks.
Reward hard work by having an Easter egg coloring contest. Challenge each child to color three eggs as beautifully as he or she can, using whatever supplies you happen to have. Give each kid a couple of eggs to practice on. When the judging happens, identify and vote for the eggs that clearly showed the most time and effort invested in them – eggs with careful stripes and patterns, for example. Let the contest have a small prize for the winner.
This type of contest, more than anything, rewards hard work and persistence. Coloring a beautiful striped and decorated egg isn’t difficult in and of itself, but it does take time and patience. The children who are willing to stick with it and make an elaborate beautiful design are rewarded with a small treat, teaching them the valuable financial lesson that persistence and hard work pays off.
Put smaller rewards inside showy eggs and big rewards inside plain eggs. Everyone judges a book by its cover. We often think the big, shiny item must be the best one, or the well-dressed person must be the right one to talk to, but that’s often not the case. Judging a book by its cover, a car by its shiny exterior or someone’s trustworthiness by his smile is a practice that will often give us results we don’t want. Instead, it is financially and professionally smart to look at the actual content and value of something. Judge a car by reliability numbers, not by the fancy design. Judge a product by its quality, not by its packaging or by the smile on a salesperson’s face.
You can begin to teach this lesson with a clever trick during an Easter egg hunt. Put a small treat inside the most beautiful and showy eggs, and put better treats inside ordinary eggs. As your children open the eggs to find nice treats in the plain eggs and smaller treats in the gaudy eggs, you can make the point that you can’t always judge something by what it looks like at first glance.
Teach perseverance by making some eggs tricky to find. One way to teach this financial lesson is to hide most of the eggs in easy-to-find locations, but make several of the eggs into “challenge” eggs, making them more difficult to find, but putting some nice rewards in them.
Some children won’t have the patience to hunt for “challenge” eggs, but others will, and they’ll be rewarded with a nice treat. As this goes on, make sure to note to all of the children that perseverance pays off with the nice rewards inside of the “challenge” eggs. The children who stick with it and put their observational skills to the test will earn great rewards for their efforts. That lesson reflects how sticking with an investing plan in real life earns huge financial rewards over time or sticking with a difficult task can pay off in your career. The children sticking with this hunt can earn some sweet rewards, too.
It’s easy to keep the fun in a holiday like Easter while slipping in a few financial lessons. It just takes a bit of foresight and planning to add a little painless lesson to a fun day. The values you teach won’t lessen the celebration but they might plant a valuable thought in a child’s head.