With four kids. My life is hectic. Terribly hectic and chaotic. Ive been trying to steer my older kids to take more responsibility and do chores easier.
Enter the marble jar. I went to joanns and we each picked out a fun colored bag of marbles that you put in your fish tank, or crafting jars. We picked sea green, red, green and blue. Yes the colors matter! Then at home we dug through my various saved glass jars ( lids optional) until we had three jars the same size. One for each of my three older sons. We put their name on the jars and and each boy got 5 marbles to start.
At first they were overjoyed! We are earning marbles which earns us STUFF. So they did chores, asked to help, and were diligent in earning marbles. Within a day they were back to throwing fits and fighting. So we began to take a marble away when they acted out. This worked to keep them acting better. But still that abstract STUFF appeal wore off. The fights began, the complaining, forgetting their chores. Basically it wasn’t working anymore.
So stuff had to equal SOMETHING. My husband and I hashed it out. Each marble is equal to 1 minute on their video game ( on a rainy day ONLY) and each marble is worth 25 cents. So if they want a gum ball at the store, they have to trade me a marble. If they want a candy, they need to trade me 4 marbles. Yes one lolly pop is worth 4 marbles. I still take a marble when they act out. But now they are starting to understand that when they act good, im happy to hand them a marble ( IN THEIR COLOR! Because they will tell you YES the color matters! ) But when they act out, i will take one away. But in trading them for actual goods, in a sense, these marbles have become actual money to them.
I frequently get a fountain soda when I’m out and about. The kids always want a slushy. Sometimes i say yes, sometimes i say no. But now Ive decided that the marbles are equal to quarters, Ive told them they could trade me 4 marbles for a slushy. But only when I said they could have one, not an every day trade. This idea was awesome for us. They love getting slushies. They pour out their marbles and count me back 4. Tears will come when they don’t have enough marbles and they quickly scamper to find a chore they can do to earn enough to get that coveted prize.
Im also printing out sheets with trade values. For instance, a movie ticket for a child is 7 dollars. So they need to trade 28 marbles to go see a movie. If they want popcorn, they need to trade me 35 marbles.
I believe this is teaching my kids a good reward system, one that will take away when they misbehave. I also believe its teaching them the basics of money. And nothing beats the smile on their faces when they get a marble. Except maybe trading those marbles for a prize.