Using an ice cream stand to teach children economic values

Beginning your child’s economic education early is a great way to help them prepare for their future. Many children grow up without an understanding of spending, saving, and earning money. When they reach a stage in their lives where it’s necessary to have this knowledge, trying to learn it all at once can be challenging and discouraging. Using a simple ice cream and coffee stand as a learning tool is a fun way to teach your children strong economic values.


Starting with the concept of budgeting, one idea is to explain to your children that they can only spend a set amount of money on their coffee and ice cream shop supplies. Once at the grocery store, help your child learn about price tags and comparing products to get the most for their money with a calculator. These are all great lessons to help your child understand currency and value.

Next, you can help your child set up their stand and introduce them to the idea of sales. Keep in mind that they will benefit from the use of simple language and small amounts of information at a time. It’s also helpful to use specific examples to illustrate the concepts you’d like them to understand. Keep them involved in the process by giving them hands-on activities. Set them up at a station to give cups of coffee and tasting spoons of ice cream to customers while you serve. You can also help them accept money and make change for customers.

Once you and your child are done selling, you can work together to count the money that was made. This is a good time to introduce the concept of profit to them by explaining that some of the money they made has to cover the cost of the materials they originally bought. It might be helpful to split up the money to show them specifically where it all went. For example, you can show them how much was spent on the ice cream bowls separately from the coffee cups and lids. You can then show them that the money left over is their profit.

Depending on the age of your child, there are many other economic topics you can explain using a fun activity like an ice cream and coffee stand. Spending versus saving, interest percentages, and investing are all important economic values you can teach your child when it’s the right time. Using positive and encouraging language will keep your child motivated to continue learning.
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