Before your kid opens a lemonade stand, try this fun activity

Educator Victoria Altman introduces a new book-based summer activity to share with youngsters, especially budding entrepreneurs.

Most children's lemonade stands aren't yet accepting credit cards—and it's important for kids (and adults!) to learn how to transact using coins and bills.

In “Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily,” Pauline and John-John try everything they can think of to attract customers. They use advertising, entertainment, decorations, and even a sale. The book is by Emily Jenkins and is illustrated by G. Brian Karas.
"Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money" is by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Lemonade in Winter is the story of two siblings who decide to open a lemonade stand on a snowy winter day. In this book, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Pauline and John-John try everything they can think of to attract customers. They use advertising, entertainment, decorations, and even a sale.

Their leap into small business ownership forces Pauline and John-John to get creative and try different strategies to help them sell their lemonade. As they buy ingredients and sell their product, Pauline teaches her little brother how to count money and to think about how spending and selling work.

Illustration from "Lemonade in Winter." Our reading guide to the book helps define challenging words for young readers, such as "goods and services," "employee," "advertisement," and "profit."
Illustration from "Lemonade in Winter." Our reading guide to the book helps define challenging words for young readers, such as "goods and services," "employee," "advertisement," and "profit."

Our new OurStory activity deepens the experience of reading the book by providing activities to help your child understand how money works, why it is important, and why businesses are such a central part of the American story. Use the "Take a Trip" activity to meet your own local business-owners and the "Play and Create" section to design your own money for use at home. In "Use Technology," teach your kids about bartering and what society was like before the invention of money. In the "Learning from Objects" section, kids can explore how Santa Claus helped Coca-Cola sell soda when it's cold out!

A pine tree shilling coin from the Massachusetts Bay colony
A pine tree shilling coin from the Massachusetts Bay colony, minted between 1667 and 1674

As important as math skills and yummy beverages are, what do they have to do with the National Museum of American History?

In 2015, we will be opening up a new floor of exhibitions and learning spaces that will explore the themes of innovation and invention. One of these new exhibits will focus on American business history, while another will focus on numismatics (the study and collecting of coins and currency). We featured Lemonade in Winter because it tells these stories and is a wonderful tool for helping elementary students learn to convert coins to dollars and back again.

When the nation's banks closed during the Depression, Leiter's Pharmacy in Pismo Beach, California, issued this clamshell as change
When the nation's banks closed during the Depression, Leiter's Pharmacy in Pismo Beach, California, issued this clamshell as change

If you give this activity a try with a kid in your life, let us know how it goes! 

Victoria "Tory" Altman is an Education Specialist in the Office of Education Outreach. She has also blogged about the Star-Spangled Banner, letter writing, and cowboy Nat Love.

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