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Economics Board Games for Kids

Economics Board Games for Kids

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Board games are an awesome supplement for a lot of school subjects, but they’re an especially great way to teach and learn economics. Buying and selling, bartering and trading, and money in general are easy themes to work into fun board game formats. 

So far in this Board Games for Kids series, we’ve looked at great games for teaching US History, US Geography, World History, World Geography, and Government/Civics. Now I’ll share some great ideas for board games for Economics for the K-8th grade age range.

The games listed here are in order of player age (from youngest to oldest) and they include every economic topic from making change to stock market simulation. There are many more games out there, but these were chosen because they’re appropriate for the elementary to junior high age range, they’re engaging, and they’re educational without being boring.

Economics Board Games for Kids

I’m going to assume that most of my readers are familiar with Monopoly (and its many, many themed versions) and The Game of Life. Both of these classic games are great discussion generators to gently introduce money-related topics like buying, selling, mortgages, taxes, and investing. I won’t get into more detail here since they’re so well-known, but if you don’t already have them, I highly recommend both games for kids of all ages!

Now, on with the more detailed list!

Lemonade Shake Up!

Lemonade Shake Up! is a cute, cooperative game for 2-4 players, ages 4+. The goal is for everyone to collectively earn money selling lemonade to fill the group’s money jar. 

The gameplay is similar to Yahtzee but much simpler. Players roll the dice which are marked with ingredients like sugar, lemons, strawberries, etc. Then they decide which dice to keep or re-roll to get the required combinations of ingredients they need to make their recipes.  

This game is perfect for introducing kindergarten and early elementary kids to very basic economics topics. Homeschool parents and classroom teachers can use it to generate discussion about selling goods, entrepreneurship, and saving money. 

There’s enough strategy to keep a 2nd or 3rd grader interested, but it’s easy enough to learn and play for preschoolers. Because it’s cooperative, everyone wins or loses together, so it’s very low-stress. And the kinetic movement (shaking the dice in the cup) makes Lemonade Shake Up! a great beginner strategy game for young kids who might not sit still for other board games.

The Allowance Game

The Allowance Game is a 2-4 player board game perfect for kids age 5+ who are learning the basics of economics and money management. The game board reminds me of Monopoly and the gameplay is very straightforward. Players roll dice, move around the board, and follow the instructions on their space, trying to be the first one to save $20. 

The game board spaces are fun, simple, and relatable for young kids. I love that the spaces incentivize the right things. Kids earn money for doing chores (like washing the car or mowing the lawn) and for positive behaviors (like improving their report card or recycling cans). And they lose money for things like overdue library books or breaking a window, which helps them begin to realize there are often monetary consequences for their actions.

The majority of the economics topics are related to buying/selling and making change. But I also love that the game includes a few specialty spaces to mix things up. The “Bank” space is where players can deposit money and earn interest. And the “Lemonade Stand” space can be purchased by the first person to land on it, and then they earn money from every future player who buys a glass of lemonade (i.e. lands on that space). 

Students will get practice working with nickels, dimes, quarters, and $1 and $5 bills. And the amounts aren’t just simple whole dollars – they’ll get practice making change for purchase amounts like $2.25, $1.30, and $0.45, for example. For the youngest kids, The Allowance Game is a great introduction to several money concepts. And for the older elementary kids, it’s a fun way to review concepts and get extra practice. 

Exact Change

In the simple card game, Exact Change, two or more players ages 5+ are competing to play all their cards first. It’s similar in gameplay to Uno or Crazy 8’s where cards played need to match the previous card in value or color. However, the option to make “exact change” (by playing multiple cards that add up to the value of the previous card) adds an extra element of fun and learning. 

Most of the cards themselves show various coins/bills or combinations of coins. There are also action cards, like “collect tax” or “bank withdrawal” with special instructions, and wild cards to mix things up.

This is a very straightforward, easy-to-play game for learning about money, coin value, and making change. Some preschoolers could probably handle this game, and it’s perfect for the kindergarten to early elementary age range. 

The illustrations, colors, and accurate coin/bill images make it easy for non-readers to still enjoy playing Exact Change. While there are some words/instructions to read on the action cards, once players know what those cards look like, reading the cards isn’t really necessary – just like you don’t need to be able to read the word “wild” to recognize a wild card in Uno.

Catan Jr.

At first glance, Catan Jr. seems like it might be too complicated for a six-year-old to play because there are so many pieces and a non-traditional game board. It’s not your average roll-and-move game. But the learning curve isn’t bad, and after a quick explanation of the rules, most kids ages 6+ should have a lot of fun with this.

This is a pirate-themed, junior version of the original game Catan (see below since it made this list, too). The fun, colored resource pieces (wood, goats, molasses, swords, and gold), double-sided game board (depending on the number of people playing), and kid-friendly illustration style make this very appealing to elementary-aged kids.

If you’re familiar with the original version, this one is actually very similar in concept but with simplified rules and shorter game times (typically about 30 min. or less). Players gather resources, trade in the market, and build lairs and ships in an effort to be the first to control seven pirate lairs.

Catan Jr. is a great introduction to more complex strategy games. It’s also an engaging hook to get kids discussing economics topics like trading, resource management, and supply/demand.

Ice Cream Empire

Ice Cream Empire is an entertaining way to teach kids about business and entrepreneurship skills like inventory management and business growth. Players will use good money-making strategies (like buying low and selling high) to grow their ice cream empire and be the first to build 8 ice cream stores across the country (and have $3,000 cash, too).

The game board is a map of the United States and the game pieces are ice cream trucks. As players expand their companies, they use little cones to show their franchise locations. Cute inventory chips (Carmel, Chocolate, Mint, and Strawberry) and clever board spaces (like Freezer Failure, Ice Cream Social, Delivery Spoilage, and Hostile Takeover) complete the ice cream business theme and provide talking points for a lot of different entrepreneurial topics. 

The rules are easy to learn in this basic, 2-4 player, roll-and-move game which makes it easy for even first and second graders to jump in and play (it’s rated for ages 7+). But the business strategy involved in Ice Cream Empire makes it interesting for older kids and adults, too. And, of course, all ages will appreciate the ice cream theme!

Dog-Gonnit! (and Cat-Tastic!)

A few years ago, my then-10-year-old aspiring veterinarian got Dog-Gonnit! as a gift, and all three of my kids (now ages 7, 12, and 14) still enjoy playing it together! This simple roll-and-move game is a great way to introduce kids to entrepreneurial concepts like owning a business, paying business expenses, and being paid for services by customers. 

It’s listed for 2-4 players ages 8+ but first and second graders would enjoy this, too. There’s a little strategy involved in deciding if/when to buy a business (the choices are veterinarian, groomer, trainer, dog food company, and boarding/pet store and each has varying operating costs and benefits). But there’s a lot of luck involved with the event cards and die rolling, so really anyone can win.

Players try to keep their businesses booming in order to earn more than they spend. The winner is the one who collects six hearts by adopting pets and choosing cards (which sometimes reward players with hearts) without running out of money first. 

Dog-Gonnit! is a light, dog-themed game that’s perfect for elementary kids. It doesn’t come across as “educational” at all, but provides a very gentle introduction to basic economic concepts. There’s also a cat-themed version of basically the same game – so try Cat-Tastic! for all the cat-loving kids in your family or classroom!


Corinth is a roll-and-write dice game with cute illustrations and a 4th century Corinthian marketplace theme. 2-4 players, ages 8+, take turns rolling 9 dice and deciding how to best allocate their dice to check off various goals on their scoring sheets (think Yahtzee, but more complicated… and in Greece). 

The scoring sheet is filled with different objectives (i.e. different goods and items in the marketplace). Gold and goats, which are used as currency, can be saved up to buy buildings which provide bonus advantages. There’s also the option to use dice rolls to move your “steward” around his grid on the scoring sheet. He earns you more gold, goats, and/or points. 

Economics topics can easily be worked into game table discussion. Players buy with gold and barter with goats. Also, some goals need to be completed fully in order to earn points. So players need to manage their resources in the short- and long-term and not spread their resources too thinly across too many goals. 

This is a fun, easy-to-learn game for 3rd graders and up. Depending on the number of players, a game should last between 20 and 30 minutes which makes Corinth a perfect classroom or co-op supplement. 

Isle of Skye

In Isle of Skye, 2-5 players (ages 8+) are Chieftains of Scottish clans, each trying to expand their kingdoms. This tile-laying game includes tiles with various landforms and man-made features. It reminds me of Carcassonne but with an added pricing aspect.

Play consists of six rounds and the player with the most points at the end wins. In each round, players first pick three tiles, and then they secretly (behind included cardboard screens) set prices for two tiles and choose one to discard. 

After the pricing phase, players take turns buying tiles at the prices set by their opponents. Next, they use the tiles they purchased to build up their kingdom, trying to maximize features based on the point scoring goals which change each round.

While it’s not obviously an “economics teaching game”, it’s still a great game to encourage discussion about several economics topics. Pricing strategies, value, and balancing long- and short-term savings goals are all an important part of this game. 

The rules, once understood, aren’t too complex. But the strategy and observation skills needed make this best for 4th grade and up, in my opinion. WARNING: There are monetary rewards for having more whiskey barrels along roads connected to your castle. While it’s not a big part of the game, some parents/teachers may find this mention of alcohol objectionable or against school policy.

The simultaneous play in the pricing and tile-laying phases make this highly engaging. And the tiles and point objectives change each round, so the replayability factor is high (look for their expansion packs or consider the Big Box version for even more expanded play options). Overall, Isle of Skye is an attractive and unique game that will create many teachable moments for parents and educators. 


Catan (formerly “Settlers of Catan”) is a 3-4 player game for ages 10+ in which players strive to be the first to build and expand their settlements in order to gain the ten victory points needed to win. This game has been a favorite of our entire family for years.

Players roll the dice to get resources (brick, wool, lumber, wheat, and ore) and use various combinations of their resources to build settlements, cities, and roads. Resources can also be used to buy development cards for other bonuses. 

Other aspects of the game (like the point bonus for “longest road” and the “robber” who throws a wrench into players’ plans) add complexity and interest to the gameplay. This makes it engaging for older kids and adults while still being approachable for most 4th and 5th graders. 

I’ve talked about Catan before in my post 13 Awesome Math Games (for Kids Who Hate Math) because it’s a great way to practice probability and other math concepts in a non-threatening way. Well, it’s also great at introducing basic economic concepts of trading/bargaining, supply/demand, price theory, and resource management. 

There are also now many expansion packs available (Seafarers, Cities & Knights, Explorers & Pirates, Traders & Barbarians, and more) to challenge veteran players and provide many more scenarios for expanded play.

The high quality packaging, wooden pieces, and sturdy hexagonal playing tiles are beautiful and well made; they’ve lasted years for our family. I highly recommend Catan as a teaching tool for economics or just as a great strategy game for your next family game night!

The Farming Game

In The Farming Game, players start out with 20 acres of land and $5,000 of debt. The goal is to be the first to have a net worth of $250,000 by building up your farm to a full-time, successful farming operation. 

This 2-6 player game is listed for ages 10+ although I think slightly younger students who enjoy Monopoly could also do well with this game. In many ways, the gameplay is similar to Monopoly. The focus is on buying and selling assets and managing the growing assets with a mixture of luck and good business strategy. However, in this game, the game board represents the winter-to-harvest seasonal cycle, and this game is much more than just “farm-themed Monopoly.”

While some of the other board games on this list just lightly introduce economics concepts, this game thoroughly covers many of them; they’re an integral part of the game. In The Farming Game, players will learn about:

  • Debt & Credit
  • Operating Expenses
  • Net vs Gross Income
  • Economies of Scale
  • Leasing vs Owning
  • Risk Management
  • Balancing Risks & Rewards
  • Start-up Costs vs Ongoing Costs
  • Math Concepts (Making Change, Percentages, etc.)

The game can be quite long (2 hours), so it’s best used in home settings or classrooms where a game can be left set-up over multiple class periods. Players are working fairly independently of each other to build up their farming businesses, but games with more players can become a little more competitive since players are competing for a limited number of resources. 

This is an excellent game that’s been around for many years. Its newest version has sturdier interlocking land pieces (to represent your farm acreage) and some other minor changes. The Farming Game is a great choice for introducing and practicing many economics concepts in an enjoyable game context.

Hopefully, some of these board games have given you ideas for how to supplement your next economics lesson or simply start introducing your kids to money concepts in an engaging way!

If you’re looking for economics board game ideas for high schoolers, check out the following video by game-loving dad and high school economics teacher, Lakeside Gamer

And take a look at the following links for more board game ideas for different school subjects!

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