Our first exploration: money!

Carol Shen

Carol Shen

Guest blogger Carol Shen, is a stay at home mom of two, creator of the blog, Blueberry Mom and serves on the Board of Directors of The Reading Connection. She'll be sharing her kids' learning adventures on Start with a Book inspired topics like gardening, the night sky, If I were President, and other ideas she and her kids are excited to explore.


June 1, 2015

In Carol’s first blog post about her summer adventures with her kids, she uses the Start with a Book site for the first time. She shares the fun times (and mishap) they have exploring a topic Addie is learning about in school, money.

For our first Start with a Book adventure, we explored the topic of money. Addie’s learning about quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies in Kindergarten, and had lots of questions about where money comes from and where it ends up.

Typically when she bombards me with questions about a topic she’s interested in — it’s often late afternoon after she gets back from school, and I’m multi-tasking between getting dinner ready and figuring out how to keep Taylor, my 3 year old out of trouble. So I tell Addie with good intentions that we’ll find the answers to her questions later, but half the time it doesn’t happen. I’m not sure where to start, and my mental energy is too zapped at the end of the day to look up books that she can read or activities that she can do to further explore a topic.

This time though, after the kids had gone to bed, I went to the Start with a Book site. I clicked on the theme Money, and everything we needed to further explore the topic was there, and then some. I found:

  • Suggested fiction and nonfiction books organized by age level
  • Hands-on activities and crafts
  • Websites for kids
  • Mobile apps
  • Places to visit in the DC region (where we live)

In addition, there was a cliffs notes version of the information in a Money Reading Adventure Pack PDF. There is a suggested grade for the PDF (and for the topic of money it said 3rd grade), but I found that when looking through the PDF I was able to version the information for Addie, my Kindergartener, as needed.

With all the work having been done for me, I just scrolled through the information, downloaded the PDF, and picked what I thought would work well for Addie. Here’s what we decided to do:

We read two of the suggested books: A Chair for My Mother and Follow the Money. Addie really enjoyed reading the non-fiction book Follow the Money, as it answered lots of her money related questions.

Books about money

Addie made a piggy bank (this was a suggested activity in the money-themed Reading Adventure Pack). She was super excited to recycle a square shaped plastic food container and turn it into her very own piggy bank (I love watching how satisfied and proud Addie is when she makes something on her own from scratch).

Addie's piggy bank

We picked this activity because reading A Chair for My Mother left a strong impression on Addie, and she began understanding what it means to save up money for something special. When I asked her what she wanted to save up for, I was expecting her to say either an American Girl doll or a computer, as lately that’s what she’s been asking for. But instead, she told me she wanted to save money to donate to The Reading Connection, a local non-profit that provides kids in shelters with books. Hearing that made me so proud of her — that’s my girl!

We planned to visit the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in DC. The visit to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving did not go as planned. We arrived at around 2:00 p.m. — and all tour tickets had already been distributed! It turns out typically all tickets are distributed by 11:00 a.m., and you have to have a tour ticket to go into the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.

Thankfully, the great thing about DC, is there’s always something else to see nearby. I did some quick thinking, and realized we were within walking distance to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial — which fit right into our exploration of money with Thomas Jefferson being on the nickel. Not as cool as seeing how money is made (I still owe Addie a trip to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving) — but it was a destination that I could link to our money theme.

If you’re wondering how Addie reacted, she was disappointed. Very disappointed. A few tears were shed, but thankfully she was good with the new plan once we started walking over to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. I was relieved that I only had to explain to one child that I had messed up. With Taylor being as young as he is, he was just along for the ride and it didn’t matter where we were going as long as he got to be a part of it.

The walk over to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial was very scenic. Along the way, Addie and Taylor enjoyed quacking at the ducks and picking wildflowers.

Picking flowers

When we arrived at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, both of them had a great time exploring the monument, running up and down the marble steps and hiding behind the towering columns. Addie was quite in awe of the Thomas Jefferson statue given how huge it is.

Addie at the Jefferson Memorial

Taylor at the Jefferson Memorial

She was so impressed she took out her journal towards the end of our time there and started writing about her visit to see Thomas Jefferson.

Journal writing

You can see from the smiles on the kids’ faces we had a great afternoon outing in DC, despite the destination hiccup. We ended our journey with a visit to a popsicle stand before heading home — happy kids equals happy mom.

Mom and Taylor

I learned a few things from this experience:

  • Start with a Book is your one stop shop this summer for ideas on reading and exploring a ton of fun topics with your kids!
  • Always read the website of the place you’re visiting thoroughly (I have a bad habit of skimming — my husband tells me I’m horrible when it comes to reading instructions carefully).
  • Use the Parkmobile app for DC street parking. Not having to run back to your car when one kid is crying because the tickets to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving are all gone, and the other kid has to go potty is just about priceless.
  • When things don’t go as planned, new adventures await.

If you haven’t already, check out Start with a Book — and I’ll be back next week to share our next adventure with you!

All the very best,

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