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Funny Money


This past Christmas I gave a lot of home-made games as gifts. I had planned to make some for my own children but that simply didn't work. They are always curious to know what game is in the works. They always think I have a new game in the works :-) And they always stumble upon these games before I can surprise them. Murphy's Law of Motherhood #136 - If YOU snooped as a child your own children will be even BETTER at it.

I can laugh at this situation but in reality it isn't my children's fault at all. It's MINE. I find it VERY hard to keep a new game aside as a surprise. The more fun or special the game - the harder to wait.

The solution to this dilema was to make my kids their own currency to use when we play games. This project was quick to complete. I made the money one night when they were in bed. The next night I covered each sheet of card stock with clear contact paper. I sent them to work with my husband to be cut with the paper cutter. They turned out nicely.

There are several ways to create funny money. The first would be to use a software program like Microsoft Picture It. MS Picture it has several templates to choose from. I suggest you look at any graphics or photo software you have at home to see if they have such a project available.

I don't recommend scanning or xeroxing real money and inserting your child's picture. There may well be a law against such things, even though your intent is pure. If you are inclined to shrug and think it's an okay idea I suggest you drastically reduce the size of the bill. If you don't have the software and don't wish to copy real money you can make funny money with clip art. Gather up any pictures you'd like to be on your bills and print them out. Draw several rectangles on a sheet of card stock.  Glue the clip art where you want it.

Before you cover with contact paper add any wording you want on the bill. Some suggestions of what to put on the money:

The denomination of the bill in words OR numerals OR both.
The unit of currency. [dollar, pound, smackaroo, buck]
The place where such money is "legal tender".
A motto like "In God we Trust" or something you make up.
A water-mark if your software can do that.
An "official" seal.

Don't be afraid to use big numbers like 20, 50, 75, 100 or even 1,000. As my friend,  The Games Lady, often says "Kids love playing for BIG points even when they don't mean anything."

I made very BIG coins for my daughter's money. I could have made her bills but I don't think there is any rush. Coins allow her to work with smaller numbers and no zeros to confuse her. They are also great for playing store. My children can combine their money when they play and have both bills and coins.

Let's say that I haven't yet convinced you how INCREDIBLE an idea this is.  Can't imagine THAT happening but it's possible in theory --wink-- I suppose.  Consider this: you can make this money to use for a "token economy".  That is to say as a primary reinforcer to produce/increase a target behavior. The money can be turned in for rewards like:

One trip to the park.
A special trip to the library.
Making cookies with mom.
One 15 minute back rub.
One friend over for a 2 hour play date.

The possiblities are endless!  Some may say there is a fine line between reinforcers and bribery.  I would have to agree. You have to transition from primary reinforcers to secondary reinforcers for the target behavior to really stick.  You also want the child to learn to do the right thing BECAUSE it is the right thing.  Having done my duty by saying that....let me say this.  I think it is perfectly okay to bribe your kids, within reason.  We all work better when motivated.


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