What are currencies and exchange rates?

As your child explores Island Saver they’ll be introduced to the concept of different currencies used around the world. You can use this opportunity to help them understand the value of money used in other countries and explore how exchange rates work.
Bankimals from Island Saver with the different currencies in the Exchange Machine

Explore the money map

Understanding that we trade one currency for another can sometimes be a difficult concept for young people to grasp. Start by printing out the MoneySense money map. This activity sheet highlights the different currencies used around the world and sets a quick activity to help your child get to grips with the subject.

Introducing the Exchange Machine

When your child receives a different currency from a bankimal, they should take the coins to the Exchange Machine – this changes the different currencies into island doubloons. Your child will learn that the value of each currency can go up and down (called market value) and they will be advised by the Exchange Machine that it’s a good idea to wait until they can get the best price for the currency before exchanging.

When they have currency to exchange, go to the machine and watch the value of the currency change. Discuss when they think the best time to exchange them for doubloons would be. When they’re ready, see if they get the best exchange rate, but beware: they need to be fast as the rates can change very quickly!

Bankimal exchange

When your child arrives in Frosty Floes (an area on island two) they will discover that some of the bankimals – animals that your child will need to feed by purchasing seeds from Pigby’s store – do not reward your child in doubloons. In fact, they give them a variety of different worldwide currencies instead.

Bankimals of the world token from Island Saver

Each time they come across a special bankimal, ask them to note down its name (if they’re feeling creative they could also draw a picture of them!) and match them to their currency – they can choose from yen, dollars or rupees. To take this further, ask your child to research and discover where these currencies are used, and to make a note of where these countries are on their money map.

Understanding the principles of converting one currency to another is an important skill to develop. It helps when travelling to understand how much things cost in other countries and can help us make the most of our money while we are overseas. Island Saver guides your child through these calculations using the bankimals and their currencies to help.

The exchange machine in Island Saver

Converting currency

With your child, highlight the effects of currencies changing by looking at the image from the Exchange Machine. If your child has 50 yen to exchange, ask them to calculate how many doubloons they’d receive using the rates shown on the Exchange Machine.

Ask your child how they feel about the differing amount of doubloons they received and to suggest which exchange rate might be best. This should help them understand exchange rates in the real world and why choosing the best time to change your money for your family holiday will give them the most to spend while you’re away.

Step outside the game

Challenge your child to design their own doubloon coin, thinking about the materials they would use, the design (on both sides), the shape, size and the information it should include. Give them a range of UK coins to look at for inspiration!

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