A lesson for kids about saving and giving


So, we’re doing a rice and beans fast this week with our church.   I really, really wanted my kids (3 and 5) to participate and engage in this journey with us.   First of all, I’m way too busy (and luckily we have no food allergies) so I completely refuse to cook two meals.   But, that’s not the (main) reason I wanted to include them, just a nice result!  teehee.

I’ve found my kids getting a little picky and whiney about food, lately.  “But, I wanted a different kind of cheese.”  “I like the other yogurt better.”  “I want eggs, not cereal.”  “I want cereal, not eggs.”  “My toast is too crunchy.”  “My banana has too many dots on it.”  “I wanted an apple, not an orange.”  (Hello, first world problems!)

I mean, good heavens.  Whining about food.  Completely ridiculous.  This challenge came at a perfect time for my house!

Here’s what we did and how we explained it.

1.  We talked about it for about a week before we started.  I showed them lots of you tube videos of kids who only eat rice and beans.  We looked at the globe and talked about how MOST OF THE WORLD only gets to eat rice and beans, and how blessed we are because we have so many choices.  All the talking was really great, and opened up some fabulous dialogue and questions.  I believe it made an impression.  We are day 3 into the fast and they know what we are having for each meal.   They don’t ask.  They don’t whine.

Talking about it for a week was great……but actually being 8 meals into rice and beans is REALLY making an impression!  :)

2.  But the actual-real-main reason we’re doing this Rice And Beans Week is to be able to save the money we would spend on regular groceries and to give that saved money to others and invest in the kingdom!  Holla!

I used marbles to show my kids what we are doing and why.  (I would’ve used coins to demonstrate this since it is money we are saving…..but as a crafter I always have way more marbles than change laying around! bahaha)  Because the kids are little, they probably think rice and beans cost the same as other meals.  Goofballs.  What do they know?  You could use this same idea for any sort of saving program.  Not just for Rice and Bean Week!  ;)

So, I told them each marble equals one dollar.

I put them all out and explained it like this.





3.  I wanted the kids to see exactly how much we save each and every meal for the week.  (because we don’t go to Chipolte everyday….although I’d like to!)  So, here are the marbles again.  (Each still representing a dollar.)  After each meal I pass out how much each person saved by eating rice and beans.  And we all put it in the jar.  At the end of the week we will count it and take that much money to church.

The kids get ridiculously excited when I pass out the marbles after meals.   They love to see how much they saved.  And they talk about it during the meal too.  They talk about who we are helping and we pray for them.  So cute.


Kids like giving back.  Kids like to participate in stuff we do for others.  Kids like being a part of things bigger than themselves.  Kids like to help people.

There are some other great ideas about ways to talk to the kids about Rice and Bean Week on the church website.

Things like….

Why are we eating beans and rice?
We spend a lot of money on food. Most of us can save money by buying beans and rice instead of going out to eat or buying more expensive foods like hot dogs, chicken tenders or macaroni and cheese. For example, if we buy $10 worth of beans and rice instead of spending $25 at Chipotle, we can save $15. That’s an extra $15 we can invest in things that matter!

Why are we stashing (saving) our money?
Sometimes, we spend cash because we have it. And sometimes, that’s okay. But we want to see how much money everybody at Crossroads can save together in a week. Just think: Thousands of families go to Crossroads every weekend. If 1,000 families save $15, that’s fifteen THOUSAND dollars we can give to people who need it.

Why are we giving away the money we save?
There are kids and families in our city and around the world who don’t have enough to eat. Maybe they can’t afford to go to school or don’t have anything special they can do as a family. If we eat rice and beans for just one week, the money we save can help change that.



Want some rice and bean recipes???  Check out my rice and bean recipe round up!


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  1. Erin, This post is awesome! I like the idea of using marbles. I think it’s actually a better way to demonstrate how much money will actually go to good works. I’m going to share this with my sister and sister-in-law so they can use the idea with my niece and nephews!

  2. Abi Craig says:

    Great job, Erin. Wonderful visual explanation for the kids. We’re excited to start in tomorrow.

  3. I LOVE this! What a great idea, and what a fabulous way to explain it to and involve the children. In my church we do a one day fast once a month and donate the money we would have spent to those that need it. I definitely want to do a rice and beans week soon. My kiddos are the same age as yours, so I’m sure they would get a kick out of it as well.


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