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Teach Kids Money Management With Lemonade Stand Learning

Sweeten your kids' summer with valuable life lessons


When your kids ask you if they can have a lemonade stand, do you sigh in anticipation of all the work required? Me, too. Especially because I never did a lemonade stand when I was a kid. Instead, my best friend and I went door-to-door in her neighborhood attempting to sell “must-have” summer items like rocks and pamphlets. So when my kids suggested doing a lemonade stand in our yard, I first blamed television for putting the idea in their heads. I soon reluctantly agreed, and we were on our way to several days of fun and (don’t tell my kids this part) learning.

To start, I told the kids to hunt down a small table, folding table or stable cardboard box. Then we went to the store for cups, ice and powdered lemonade mix. The kids made signs to put on their table and on sticks stuck in the ground. One of the kids held up a sign and yelled, “Lemonade!” to attract business.

My money-obsessed 10-year-old son started the first day by charging a big fat buck for each medium-sized glass of lemonade. He actually had a few takers, but the next day he decided to cut the prices in half and ended up earning much more. On some days, the kids would put up a sign that said all the proceeds from the day would be going to a specific cause, like to a cat shelter or to the Red Cross. Those were the days I didn’t gripe about having to sit outside in the heat acting as Lemonade Stand Manager. 

As summer wore on, the kids enjoyed coming up with bigger and better ideas—like their big hit, Kool-Aid mixed with clear soda. They were like mini businesspeople sitting around the dining room table discussing the next Big Idea. They started getting repeat business from people who drove down our street every day. They even made labels for the cups with their business name: Summer Kids Drink Stand.

lemonsMore than a money-maker

The lemonade stand was a simple fundraising venture at first glance, but when I looked a little deeper I saw it for all the lessons it taught my kids and their friends:

Financial know-how

Because they know they have to reimburse Mom for start-up costs, the kids learn how to seek out deals on cups and lemonade and to make their own ice in advance. They also learn about making change, counting money, measuring, dividing earnings between kids, how much to charge, record-keeping, saving for something they want, and altruism (through donating their money to a specific cause or charity).

Business strategy

There’s much for kids to learn about business, like the fact that there are good and bad times and days to sell. (Lunch and rush hour are good lemonade-selling times; chilly days are not. Garage sale days are the best!) They also learn patience and perseverance.

Safety & stranger danger

I’m sure your kids already know not to approach a car when they don’t know who is in it. Selling lemonade reinforces that message and lets your child know it’s okay to tell someone, “No, I’m not allowed to do that.” Your child should require customers to get out of their cars to purchase their lemonade. (It’s not a drive-through, after all!)

Basic manners & social skills

Kids learn to meet and greet neighbors and strangers. They learn to smile and communicate politely with customers about the cost of the lemonade: “That will be 50 cents, please.” They learn that if they provide good service and a sincere thank you, they will be more likely to earn repeat business and maybe even a tip (for which they wil say an extra profuse term of gratitude).

Health regulations

I also made sure the kids knew to hold cups at the base (not at the lip where their customers’ mouths would be) and to keep their fingers out of the cups at all times. As a humorous example, I showed them the scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation, in which the girl stirs the drink with her bare, dirty arm. Gross! 

At the fast-approaching end of lemonade season, your neighbors may be broke—and sick of lemonade—but your kids won’t be asking to borrow money all the time. And they will have learned some valuable lessons to use next summer and throughout their lives.

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) was started in 2000 by Alex Scott, who was diagnosed with childhood cancer before her first birthday. When she was 4, she set up a lemonade stand to donate the money to help find a cure. Soon others around the country were setting up stands to donate their money, as well. Alex died at the age of 8, but her lemonade stand legacy has raised over $40 million for childhood cancer research and more. Visit the ALSF site to register your stand, and they’ll provide materials to make your fundraiser a success.

Kerrie McLoughlin is a mom of five. Visit her blog, The Mommy Kerrie Show.


Have any of your kids' projects or games turned into valuable teaching opportunities for you? Please share!

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