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It’s a money old world

Learn about the history (and geography) of money, then choose a creative way to show how it’s changed over the years.

You will need

  • Something to show the different stages of money through history
  • A world map (optional)

Activity summary

This activity helps everyone learn how money has changed through time and in different countries. It’ll help the group think about the role that money has played in different societies, and what it represents today. Once they’ve learned about the history of money, everyone will choose a way to tell others about it (or share their favourite bit) – they can use any creative way they like.

Before you begin

  • Make sure you’ve risk assessed your meeting, and also have a COVID-19 safe risk assessment that’s been agreed by your line manager. You can check out more detailed guidance here.
  • Take a look at the facts about the history of money, and choose how you want to share them with the group.

Safety checklist

Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:

  • Make sure that everyone knows the plan for dropping young people off (and picking them up again).
  • Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session.
  • Stay socially distanced when moving around the space and when talking to other people.

Step 1: back in the day...

Further down the page, you’ll find some information and pictures about the history of money, including where different things happened. Mix the 10 stages up, and share them (in the wrong order). It’s up to you how you share them.

Talk about what people noticed. How did money change? What do they think made these changes happen? What do they think might happen next?  

Step 2: order

Now it’s time to put the stages in the right order.

Step 3: tell the world

Now everyone knows about the history of money, it’s time to share their new knowledge! Everyone should choose their own way to share what they’ve learned about the history of money. It’s up to them whether they work in groups or on their own – the most important thing is that they find it interesting and share their opinion.

The history of money

Print the stages and cut around the boxes or mix them up and show them on a screen. It’s up to you whether to include the dates – you know your group (and their learning levels) best.

An illustration of two people holding an different fruits in each hand.
An illustration of two people trading cereal grains for a cow.
An illustration of shells atop a sand dune, overlooking the ocean.
An illustration of someone creating money from sheets of metal.
An illustration of gold and silver coins engraved with lions, cows, birds and rabbits.
An illustration of leather money, decorated with animals and celestial objects.
An illustration of £5 notes.
An illustration of small beads woven onto vine leaves.
An illustration of some coins next to a cash register.
An illustration of a credit and debit card.


The history (and geography) of how people have paid for things over time can tell us a lot about their societies. Can you remember all the different materials used as money? What did they represent? What do you think will happen to money next?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.