To play the game Gnome Share you will need to find some household items that you can use as “jewels” (perhaps you have some old beads or you might buy some inexpensive ones at a craft store. Small gems are also available at many craft stores—often used for the bottom of vases or fish tanks). When you’re ready, tell your child the Gnome Share story: “In the Land of Numbers is a great jeweled forest, where gems and riches are hidden everywhere. Two children have stumbled through a magical door and down a rainbow path where they met a plump little gnome, named Gnome Share. Gnome Share showed them all the piles of jewels (bring them out for the child to see) and he (or she) told the children that it was his/her job to divide the riches equally among all the people that lived in the Land of Numbers. The gnome then handed the two children a bag of 8 gems. The children worried that they wouldn’t know how to share them, but Gnome Share showed them how to make sure they each get the same number. The children asked to help Gnome Share with his work and he readily agreed but he wanted to know, first, if the children could figure out a way to divide them equally.”
Hand your child a bag of 8 gems and ask the child to show the gnome that they can divide them equally. Encourage your child to talk about the method they’ve devised: you can make the next round of the game harder or easier, depending on their success. Encourage them to devise new strategies when the ones they’ve used aren’t practical. For example, “one for you and one for me” works well for perhaps 8 gems, but when the bag contains, perhaps, 100 gems, that method is cumbersome. How else could you do it?
While this game isn’t technically about “money” most children understand that “gems” are another expression of value that can be quantified by naming what each piece is worth, even if you are making up the value as part of a story. To make this activity more money-specific, you can modify the instructions so that the bag contains a dollar-value of gems; i.e., this bag of gems is worth 10 gnome dollars. In our town today are 5 gnomes that must share it. How much will each gnome get? How many gems will each get so the value is the same for each?