Top 8 Manipulatives for Teaching Money Concepts to little learners

Last Updated on November 8, 2022 by Editorial Team

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Are there any manipulatives for teaching about money to young learners? If you are asking this question, you certainly have dealt with the discomfort of dealing with money or have a child going through a similar condition. The answer is, thankfully, Yes!

Why use manipulatives to teach about money to early learners?

Coins and currencies attract everyone from an early age. The very first introduction to money happens when the children get a gift from the piggy bank and filling it to the brim becomes one of their fondest dreams. It will not be an understatement if we call the piggy bank the very first tool that kids get, which helps them learn about money. Manipulatives further extend this idea of learning about money in a more learning-driven manner. These are helpful because:

1. Not all kids are comfortable with the idea of counting and dealing with currency. This inability to keep up with the money matters, budgeting, and paying for buying things is a sign of dyscalculia that remains ingrained all life in people having this disorder. Manipulatives help have an alternative method of learning about money matters in an activity-oriented manner.

2. With changing times and better awareness about the learning needs of dyscalculic children, educators have realized the need for fun teaching methods like using manipulatives to help children master money and related affairs.

3. Manipulatives can be used for role-playing activities[1] that can help children build confidence in making payments in real-life situations.

4. Manipulatives offer a fun-filled way of teaching money and remove their hesitation or fear about the same. A complex topic like budgeting can also be taught in a deeply engaging and practical manner using these manipulatives.

All these reasons show that manipulatives boost the learning of money-based concepts in a practical manner and help children grow up to become a confident dealer in financial matters. Let’s take a look at the most engaging manipulatives that can teach children about money and matters like counting coins and currency, exchanging money for goods and planning expenditures, etc.

1. Learning Resources Pretend And Play Money Set

Learning Resources Pretend And Play Money Set

Pretend & Play Play Money from Learning Resources is the finest introduction to coins and bills. This manipulative for teaching money matters is useful as an activity set. Children can learn about various denominations of coins and bills prevalent in the present economy. With help of role-playing and competitive activities, this activity set is helpful in teaching counting, bills, and coins identification and doing basic math like addition.

By giving a first-hand introduction to coins and currency bills, teachers and parents can reduce the hesitation in children towards dealing with money matters to a great extent. Further, these fake currency bills and coins can be used to teach basic math like addition, subtraction, etc. These basic math operations teach better about how to shop and calculate expenses made, and the amount they will get as change after making any payment.

2. Melissa and Doug Play Money Set

Melissa and Doug Play Money Set

Plastic coins and familiar-looking currency notes are provided with a wooden drawer arrangement in this manipulative. There are about 50 pieces of each denomination making it easy for the children to learn as many combinations as possible. The unique thing about this manipulative is that by the way of categorizing, it helps master number recognition and identification.

Parents or teachers can ask children to classify the coins and bills and place them in the slots assigned to each denomination. This is how the children may develop comfort with currency handling and become smart shoppers in times to follow.

3. Money Bags Coin Value Game

Money Bags Coin Value Game

Gamification of ideas is the most engaging and mind-stimulating way of teaching any concept new to a learner. The money concept is no exception, either. This Money Bags board game creates all the right conditions to familiarize the kids with coins, currency, adding, subtracting, and eventually building wealth.

The gameplay is designed in a learning-oriented manner. The players get to do all basic activities like collecting money, exchanging, paying, etc. to complete the path through the finish line. Thus, this board game offers an engaging manipulative that may help boost a child’s confidence while dealing with money.

4. Pretend to Spend Wallet

Pretend to Spend Wallet

Children have a tendency to imitate elders. They are quite intrigued by the way the father takes out the wallet from his pocket and pays for anything they demand. This money wallet manipulative offers children to step into the shoes of elders and pretend to pay. This wallet is not carrying coins and bills only. It also has various forms of plastic money like gift cards and bank cards which have become an indispensable part of the present world baking system.

The biggest advantage this manipulative offer is the ease of teaching kids to organize the money in their wallet and be systematic in dealing with money. So, you are quite likely to groom an early learner about being careful with money through role-playing using this manipulative.

5. Money Activity Set

Money Activity Set

As mentioned above piggy bank is perhaps the oldest manipulative for learning about money that kids befriend very early in life. This activity set does feature a piggy bank among other things, making it interesting for the kids to do various money-based operations.

With the help of bills, coins, and cue cards, kids do various activities that familiarize them with concepts like making payments, calculating change, depositing extra savings, and others. Basic skills like currency and its value identification, and counting comes easy to kids by using this manipulative. Also, the additional benefits of building fine motor skills, counting, and adding make this activity set a must-have in your teaching tools list.

6. Playkidz Interactive Toy Cash Register for Kids 

Playkidz Interactive Toy Cash Register for Kids 

Why would any child require to learn about money? Well, obviously to become an independent shopper on growing up, isn’t it? That is why this interactive toy register is designed to give a realistic experience of what to expect at the billing counter of a shop. Kids are given dummy products to buy or sell with the price mentioned on those.

The simple act of inputting prices, calculating the total due, and giving change to the customer takes learning to another level. This activity set cum toy, with its interactive design, offers multiple benefits such as – ease of understanding the sound of numbers, flexibility with following instructions, doing operations like adding the amounts and finding the total bill, etc. Thus, not only about money, but this manipulative does teach many things about shopping too.

7. Monopoly Ultimate Banking Game

Monopoly Ultimate Banking Game

Another very important reason for learning money is to understand how banks and businesses work. Modern banking and transactions system is largely dependent not on bills and currencies but on cashless ways. Monopoly is a game that familiarizes kids with cashless ways of transacting properties and dealing with banks.

If not fully devoted to teaching coins and currency bills, this game is still a good learning resource as it introduces kids to using cards. Also, the game requires the kids to take decisions like property buying, selling, putting the property on auction, taking loans from banks, and others. So, this game offers complete know-how on money dealing that happens in the adult world to early learners.

8. Learning Resources Teaching ATM Bank

Learning Resources Teaching ATM Bank

Modern-time money knowledge is incomplete without learning about ATMs. Kids are always curious about this magical machine and this manipulative brings that intriguing money-dispensing tool right to their hands.

Kids can learn to punch the amount, know how to use debit cards in an ATM machine, and collect and count money after it is dispensed. So, do include this ATM machine in your teaching methods when you want to teach money concepts to children using manipulatives.

To conclude,

Money is the basic thing that every child needs to learn about. Giving them pocket money or piggy banks has been a strategic way of making kids responsible and learning about finances for ages. This simple activity can be made more systematic and planned by the use of manipulatives that boost abstract thinking and promote strategical ways[2] of boosting money concepts among young learners.


  1. Hidayah, Isti & Sugiarto, & Dwijanto, Dwijanto. (2016). The role of manipulatives usage in mathematics learning of primary education with a scientific approach towards the students’ thinking ability. 14. 7219-7232.
  2. McBryde, Joan Horton, “Assisting the learning disabled through the use of math manipulatives” (1993).
    Theses Digitization Project. 670.

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