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Making Toy Credit Cards for Kids

Brainy Bunny is a mother of two. Together they read, craft, and play games for fun.

I had fun making a credit card for myself, too!

I had fun making a credit card for myself, too!

Teaching Preschoolers and Elementary-Aged Kids About Money

Play shopping is one of the most popular types of pretend play for toddlers and preschoolers, and young kids can be very picky about how they play. In order to do it right, your kids will want to do it the same way you do. If you use a credit card, they will want one, too.

Here's how to make pretend credit cards with your kids that they can use for all their play shopping needs.

What You'll Need

  • scissors
  • thin, light-colored cardboard (you can use cardboard from a shoebox for a sturdy credit card for a younger child or a file folder for an older child)
  • fine-tipped markers or colored pencils

How to Make a Pretend Credit Card

  1. First, cut out several credit-card-sized shapes. Your youngster may want more than one, or he may try several times until he hits on a design he likes. You'll want at least one for you to design, as well.
  2. Show your child your credit cards so they see the elements of a real credit card and the different styles and colors that real credit cards use. Don't forget to show the signature on the back.
  3. Next, get started designing. Adjust your expectations to the age of your child. A two-year-old will be proud of her colorful scribbles (probably more on the table than the credit card!), while a kindergartner may be able to write his name and a series of numbers, as well as color the background neatly.

The whole project won't take more than fifteen minutes, and your child will have plenty of fodder for pretend play shopping.

Set Up a Play Store

Once your children have their play credit cards in hand, it's time to set up a store. Let them choose whatever they want to buy or sell. My kids usually play bookstore now because we have hundreds of children's books in our house, but when they were younger, they often played grocery store with fake food.

More uses for a play credit card:

  • Play restaurant, and give the waitress the credit card to pay for the meal.
  • Use the pretend credit card to pay for entrance to a private club. (My daughter tricked my son once into paying to enter her room, although she made him use real money! We had a little talk about that stunt.)
  • Pretend your living room is a furniture store, and let your child pay for his preferred spot on the couch for a day.
What can your kids buy with their credit cards today?

What can your kids buy with their credit cards today?

The other key item children love to use for a store, besides a credit card, is a noisy cash register. The more beeps and rattles the better, it seems. If you have a toy cash register that you can actually run their new credit cards through, well then, all is right with the world! Don't forget to use play money as well as their new credit cards. Learning to identify the value of different bills and coins is an important skill for young children.

Teach Your Kids About Finance

Of course, I don't mean you should sit your four-year-old down and explain all the intricacies of a market economy! However, preschoolers aren't too young to learn a few facts about money.

  1. You use the money to pay for the things you need and the things you want.
  2. You and your spouse have to work to get money, and so will they when they get older.
  3. Credit cards are not free money. You still have to pay for the items you buy (and sometimes they end up costing more).

If your kids are interested, give them an old check register and a couple of voided checks so they can play at paying off their pretend credit card bills, too. It's never too early to learn about using credit responsibly!


Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on October 22, 2012:

Thanks, GlstngRosePetals. My kids really enjoyed it, and we've had some good talks about money since doing this project, too.

GlstngRosePetals from Wouldn't You Like To Know on October 22, 2012:

What a great activity to have with a child and a well thought out lurning tool as well. Voted up!!

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on September 24, 2012:

My kids have always been interested in money and how it works, so this is another way to teach them. Thanks for reading, clevercat.

Rachel Vega from Massachusetts on September 23, 2012:

Great fun! I love this idea, and learning about money early on in life is terrific. Voted up and awesome!

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on September 12, 2012:

That's right, Denise. When they're young, they're happy to use the play credit cards and just pretend to buy stuff. When they get older, they want YOUR credit card to buy stuff for real!

Denise Mai from Idaho on September 11, 2012:

What a fantastic idea. Pretend shopping is always a big hit with little kids and these days, few people use cash. A credit card allows them to be just like Mommy or Daddy! The activity of making it is part of the fun. It almost makes me wish my kids were small again. Sigh.

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2012:

Wilderness, isn't kids' interpretation of adult behavior fascinating? I remember when my daughter was in preschool, she used to make a pretend computer by leaning one book against the back of a chair and putting another on the seat, and then banging on it with all her might. Apparently, I make a lot of noise when I type!

But it's true that managing money is a skill we all need, and so I try to be transparent about the processes of paying bills, getting paid, going to the bank, etc. I don't tell my kids dollar amounts, but I do talk about budgeting and what it means to be able to afford something (and how what we buy reflects our values).

Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on September 11, 2012:

Great hub for parents with small kids. We all laughed when we told our grandson we didn't have the money to buy something and he told us that we didn't need money, just a credit card. Funny at the time, but some people never learn how to use a card; with the world going to plastic it's a skill we all need and the sooner the better.

Even if it means coloring the table!

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2012:

Natasha: Oh, the difference a few years makes. I used to play restaurant, too, but I had to write my menus up by hand! Of course, I added authenticity by spilling food on it, just like at the diner we used to frequent. ;)

Sharyn: Thank you! I try to take the opportunity to teach my kids about finances whenever possible, so that they won't be clueless when they become teens and start to earn a little money of their own.

Jelly: Aside from just having fun with them, I'm actually glad I have a chance to include my kids in a lot of my Hubs. They'll provide a record of the food we ate and silly things we did back when they were kids. :)

jellygator from USA on September 11, 2012:

Ah, memories!

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on September 11, 2012:

This is so adorable. I don't even have kids and I love it. Great ideas to teach kids about money, shopping and saving too.

Natasha from Hawaii on September 11, 2012:

It's interesting you mention having a pretend restaurant. When I was in elementary school, I would sometimes help my dad plan the supper menu and would proudly create printed menus on the computer to make it look like a restaurant!