Interesting & important money facts for kids

Interesting & important money facts for kids

Learning about money doesn’t need to be dull. And as financial literacy is important for kids, you want to keep them engaged and interested. So here are some facts about money to teach them, in terms they’ll understand. 


What is the definition of money?

Money is what people give in return for something they need or want. Like groceries, clothes, a car, or a house. Or in return for a service such as teaching, or babysitting. 


It can come in the form of coins or paper bills which usually have their specific value printed on them. 


Most countries have their own type of money. America has the US dollar, the UK has the sterling pound. Several European countries use the same type of money: the Euro.


You might also hear money called ‘currency’,  ‘cash’ ‘ funds’ or ‘legal tender’. In the States, there are slang terms for money too, like ‘bucks’, ‘greenbacks’ and ‘dead presidents’. 


Related: Where does money come from?


A brief history of money

The history of money can be traced back thousands of years. Before we had money, people used things they valued to barter for goods. Like cattle, corn, spices, leather, fur, precious stones, and even human skulls! 


But it could be tricky working out what was a fair exchange. To make things easier, more convenient forms of money emerged. 


In ancient Mesopotamia, around 4000 BCE, people began using clay tablets. Each tablet represented a certain amount of something, such as barley or oil and could be traded for other goods.  


In China, around 1000 BCE, people started using cowry shells for money. These small shells were easy to carry and could be used to represent different values. 

When were coins and bills introduced?

The first coins, made of silver and gold which was used as currency, were made in Lydia, in Ancient Greece (now part of Turkey)  around 600 BC. 

During the Middle Ages in Europe, coins remained the most common form of money. But as trade expanded and people started traveling greater distances, they needed money that was easier to carry. 


Paper money was invented in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). This meant people could pay large sums of money without the heavy weight of metal coins worth the same amount. Paper money worked

However, it took until the 16th century for other countries in Europe to catch on to paper bills. 


Now,  banks and credit systems have transformed money further. Today it exists in various forms, including cash, electronic transfers and digital currencies like Bitcoin. But people are using physical coins and dollar bills less and less. And as technology continues to advance, we now have even more ways to pay. 

Different currencies

Every country has its own currency — its own kind of money. But they don’t all have currencies of their own. Some countries in Europe use the same currency, the Euro. The British Virgin Islands, El Salvador and Ecuador use the US dollar. 


When you visit another country you’ll need to use their currency to buy things. US dollars, for example, won’t work in a country where they use Euros. 

Related: How to explain currency exchange rates to kids


What is the oldest currency in the world?

The shekel is believed to be the oldest currency in the world. It was a unit of weight used by the Babylonians around 3000 BC. However, the world’s oldest currency that’s still in use today is the British pound. It dates back to Anglo-Saxon times and was originally equal to a pound in weight of silver. 


Here’s a list of the eight oldest currencies still used today:




British pound

Circa 800

Russian ruble

Circa 1200

Serbian dinar


US dollar


Haitian gourde


Falkland islands pound


Dominican peso


Japanese yen



Money vocabulary


Automated teller machine where you can withdraw cash  


A place you store your money


Paper money.


A plan for how to use your money.


Small metal pieces of money.


Money you borrow from a person or bank. People often buy cars or houses using credit.

Credit card

A plastic card used to pay for things on credit. You pay the money back at a later date.


The type of money a country uses.

Debit card

A plastic card you can use to withdraw cash at an ATM or pay for things in-store or online. GoHenry is a prepaid debit card.


Money you’ve borrowed and must pay back.


Putting money in your bank account or transferring it to someone else. 


Money you give to charity or a special cause.


Money you earn from working or investing.


When the price of things goes up. Inflation affects money’s value. Its value drops when prices go up. 


Extra money you pay when you borrow money. You can also earn interest on your savings.


Money you borrow from a bank or a person.


A factory that makes coins.


Money you set aside.


A piece or share of a company. If you buy a stock you own a small part of a company.  It’s a type of investment.


Money the federal government requires you to pay from your earnings.


Fun facts about money

When you’re teaching kids about money, it might help to introduce them to some fun facts. Here are a few to get you started :

  • The word “money” comes from the Latin word “moneta”, which was the name of the goddess of finance in ancient Rome. 

  • The largest note ever printed by the US Treasury was the $100,000 bill. It had a picture of Woodrow Wilson on it and was used only for transactions between Federal Reserve banks.

  • The world’s largest coin (which weighs over 1 ton) was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007.

  • “C-note” is slang for a $100 bill. It comes from the Roman numeral “C” which stands for 100. The $100 bill once had a capital C in its upper-left corner. 

  • Because the $100 bill has a picture of Benjamin Franklin on it, it’s also called a Benjamin.

  • A penny costs 2.4 cents to manufacture while a cent costs two cents. A nickel costs 7.5 cents to manufacture. 

  • The world’s oldest surviving bank is the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Italy, founded in 1472.

  • Piggy banks have nothing to do with pigs. The word comes from ‘pygge’ an Old English word meaning a type of clay used to make jars and dishes holding money.

  • The first credit card was introduced by Diners Club in 1950. It was made of cardboard.

  • The first ATM was installed in London in 1967. 

Related: Teaching kids the value of money

How can GoHenry help?

GoHenry’s prepaid debit card for kids aged 6-18 comes with an in-app learning tool — Money Missions. Designed to accelerate your child’s financial literacy, Money Missions teaches them everything from saving money to spending wisely, budgeting and more. All through fun, bite-sized lessons containing quizzes, videos and interactive games,.
Written by Charlotte Peacock Published Jun 6, 2023 ● 5 min. read