Helping your child craft a colorful bank shows him that a penny saved is a lesson learned.
bank art.jpg

Bank On It!, p.1

It's never too early to introduce your child to the math skills he'll need to manage his money in the future. When you help your little one craft a colorful bank for storing his change, he'll have a chance to develop his creative and counting abilities.

"Making a bank will help your child understand money and see the usefulness of arithmetic," says Lee V. Stiff, Ph.D., the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. "And parents' involvement reinforces to children how important math is in everyday life."

Once the bank is completed, you can play a variety of money games with your child. Dr. Stiff recommends placing a certain number of pennies in the bank each play session -- for example, four one day, eight the next. "Then ask him how he could keep those 12 cents in his bank in the fewest number of coins possible." When he arrives at the solution, trade him the 12 pennies he saved for a dime and two pennies. As he works on solving this type of problem, he will begin to understand the value of each coin and improve his ability to add and subtract.


  • Empty coffee can or other canister with a plastic lid
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Paper in various colors
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Crayons (optional)
  • Rhinestones (optional)
  • Felt
  • Craft knife
  • 1/4"- to 3/8"-wide ribbon
  • Fabric glue or hot glue gun

Bank On It!, p.2

Encouraging your child to play bank or store is also great for dramatic play. Such a game nurtures your child's imagination and helps develop his language skills as he pretends to be a shopkeeper, bank teller, or customer and is a wonderful activity for a rainy April day. A bonus, Dr. Stiff says, is the opportunity for him to handle and count the money. "He'll be able to draw on these hands-on experiences as he gets older and learns more about math in school."

To make the project

1. Rinse out and wipe dry a coffee can and lid. Using a tape measure, determine the can's circumference and height. Take a sheet of colored paper and, with a ruler and pencil, measure and draw a rectangle equal in length to the circumference of the can plus 1" and equal in width to the height of the canister minus ?". Help your child cut out the shape, apply glue along one short edge, and press it onto the can, positioned so one long edge is flush along the bottom. Wrap the paper around the can, apply glue along the seam, and press it in place.

Bank On It

Bank On It!, p.3

2. Encourage your child to draw and then cut out shapes of various types and sizes of fish or flowers (shown) or any other motif he desires from other colors of paper. Then let him use paper, crayons, or rhinestones to add details such as fish fins or flower centers. He can include elements like shells and seaweed for an ocean scene or grass, clouds, and a sun for a garden scene. Help him glue the shapes to the covered can.

3. Place the lid on a piece of felt, trace around it with a pencil, and cut out the circle shape. Use fabric glue or a hot glue gun to apply the felt to the top of the lid. (Keep children away from the glue gun.) With a craft knife, make a slit that measures ?" wide and slightly longer than the diameter of a quarter through the felt and plastic lid. Cut a strip of ribbon 1" longer than the circumference of the lid, and glue it around the lip of the lid with fabric glue or a hot glue gun. Place the lid on top of the can, and encourage your child to drop in coins and start saving and playing.

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Copyright ? 2002


By Jean Nayar and Alexandra Grablewski