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Learn about Zakat

First suggested by Holly Birkin
What influences what people do with their money? Explore how someone’s religion might play a part with some tasty snacks.

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You’ll need

  • A4 paper
  • Sticky tack
  • Play dough
  • 100 chocolate buttons (or similar – see examples below)
  • Table knife
  • Plates (if using food)

Activity introduction 

This activity will get everyone thinking about the things that might influence what people do with their money – including religion. They’ll explore one example, Zakat in Islam. Zakat is the obligatory donation to charity that is given by Muslims once a year. Only certain Muslims pay zakat as it is based on how much wealth you own. It is calculated at 2.5% of your savings and financial assets. It doesn't include your everyday living expenses such as food, bills, rent or money used for essential needs.  Use chocolate buttons (or something else) to get their heads around what 2.5% looks like.   

Before you begin 

  • Write each of the items from the list below on a different piece of paper, and hide the pieces of paper around the meeting space before the session. You could add more itemsor even create your own listInclude some things that influence what people do with their money, and some things that probably don’t influence what they do. Don’t forget to include ‘religion’, as this links to the second part of the activity.  
  • Label one part of the meeting space influences’ and the other ‘doesn’t influence’.
  • This activity explores what 2.5% looks like with food items like chocolate buttons, crackers, sweets, or anything else that you can cut up. We’ve suggested a few tasty ways to make percentages hands-on, along with some other options that don’t involve food.

These things may influence what people do with their money: 

  • Adverts 
  • People you live with 
  • Your friends 
  • Religion  
  • Trends
  • Your mood

These things probably don’t influence what people do with their money: 

  • Favourite colour  
  • Trees  
  • Your pet  
  • Eye colour  
  • Day of the week
  • Islam teaches that people should earn money in an honest and lawful way. There may be certain ways that someone who’s Muslim would not choose to earn money. They may also choose particular ways to save money.  
  • Muslims believe in giving to help others. This includes donating to charity whenever they earn money over a certain amount. This is called Zakat and is 2.5% of what you’ve earned. 
  • Zakat is one of the five pillars (main beliefs and practises) of Islam.  
  • The other four pillars of Islam are Shahadah (sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith), Salat (performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day), Sawm (fasting during the month of Ramadan), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).  
  • Zakat comes from a word meaning cleanse. Muslims believe that giving to charity doesn’t decrease your wealth, but actually cleanses your wealth and increases it. 
  • Muslims believe that everything belongs to Allah, including money, so it should be used responsibly.  
  • Islam teaches that money can give us pleasure, but it can also be a distraction from the things that are really important in life. 

Step 1: money choices 

  1. The person leading the activity should explain that two areas of the meeting space represent things that influence what people do with their money and things that probably don’t influence what people do with their money. Things could affect how people save and spend, as well as what they give away.    
  2. Everyone should search around the meeting space to find the hidden words.
  3. Everyone should decide which area each word belongs in – does it influence what people do with their money or not?
  4. Once they’ve placed all the words in the two areas, everyone should chat about the things people thought had an influence. Why did they choose to put them in that area? How might they influence people? Where did people put religion?
  5. The person leading the activity should explain that different religions have different approaches to money. The religion that someone belongs to might affect what they choose to do with their money. Can anyone think of any examples?  
  6. Some people in your group may follow particular practices – offer everyone the chance to share (if they want to – no one should feel pressured to share). Make sure everyone listens respectfully.

 Step 2: All about Zakat 

  1. The person leading the activity should explain that it’s time to explore an example of how one religion approaches money. Does anyone know anything about Zakat in Islam? 
  2. If they need to, the person leading the activity should talk about how Zakat is one of the five pillars (main beliefs and practices) of Islam. Muslims donate 2.5% of whatever they earn (over a certain amount) to charity. 
  3. Everyone should get stuck into one of the hands-on ways to understand what 2.5% looks like. We’ve included plenty of examples so you can choose what works for you. You could also try using more than one technique. 
  4. Everyone should compare their 2.5% of play dough, chocolate buttons, or biscuits to the original pile. What does it look like? If it looks small, what would happen if everyone combined their share? 
  5. The person leading the activity should explain that if lots of people donate a small amount, it can quickly add up and make a big difference.
  6. If you used something tasty like chocolate buttons, don’t forget to eat them (especially if they might melt!)

If you have play dough

  • The pile of play dough represents all of someone’s earnings. To find what Zakat would be, you need to find 2.5%. 
  • If you divide the pile into 10 equal bits, each bit will represent 10%. 
  • If you take one of the bits and break into four equal pieces, each piece will represent 2.5%.
  • You could break one of the 10% bits into four equal pieces by making it into a flat circle and drawing a cross to split in into quarters, or you could roll it into a sausage, halve it, and halve it again.
  • If everyone takes one of the smallest pieces of play dough, they’ll have 2.5% of the original pile. This represents Zakat, 2.5% of the earnings.

If you have 100 of something tasty (such as chocolate buttons)

  • The pile of 100 chocolate buttons represents all of someone’s earnings. To find what Zakat would be, you need to find 2.5%.
  • 100 buttons is 100% (all) of the buttons. This means that each button represents 1% of the pile (because 100% divided by 100 buttons is 1%).
  • If each button is 1%, two and a half buttons is 2.5%.
  • Make sure everyone’s washed their hands before they touch any buttons.
  • If everyone takes two buttons and another half a button, they’ll have 2.5% of the original pile. This represents Zakat, 2.5% of the earnings.

If you have 10 of something tasty that you can cut into four (chocolate buttons, crackers, or biscuits work well)

  • The pile of 10 chocolate buttons represents all of someone’s earnings. To find what Zakat would be, you need to find 2.5%. 
  • 10 buttons is 100% all of the buttons. This means that each button represents 10% of the pile (because 100% divided by 10 is 10%). 
  • If each button is 10%, a quarter of a button is 2.5% (because 10 divided by 4 is 2.5). 
  • Make sure everyone’s washed their hands before they touch any buttons.
  • If everyone takes a quarter of a button, they’ll have 2.5% of the original pile. This represents Zakat, 2.5% of the earnings. 

Play dough, chocolate buttons, biscuits, or crackers not your thing? Here are some other ideas. 

Step 3: Share a cake or break a biscuit 

It’s up to you whether you use one cake, biscuit, or cookie to show everyone or whether everyone gets stuck in. 

  • Cut the cake in half (so each half represents 50%).
  • Divide one of the halves into 5 bits (so each piece represents 10%)
  • Divide one of the five bits into two pieces (so each piece represents 5%).
  • Divide one of pieces into two pieces again (so each piece represents 2.5%). 

It can get fiddly to use small biscuits (and there’ll be plenty of crumbs to clean up!), but it’s a fun challenge to show what 2.5% actually looks like. 2.5% of a biscuit isn’t really enough for a snack – but what would happen if everyone put their pieces together? You’d be able to make a cheesecake base or a rocky road! 

Measure ingredients 

Choose a recipe that uses 100g of an ingredient, such as flour, cornflakes or oats.

  • Each gram is 1% (because 100 divided by 100 is 1).
  • This means that 2.5g represents 2.5%.
  • Your scales probably won’t be able to measure in units less than a gram, so just measure out 5g and then split it into two – it doesn’t need to be exact.      

Follow another recipe

Make 10 of something, then cut one of them into four pieces. One of the quarters represents 2.5%.

You could make: 

  • Cornflake cakes – 100g of cornflakes and a similar amount of melted chocolate is all you’ll need. Throw in some butter or golden syrup too if you like.   
  • Tin can pancakes – great if you don’t have access to any kitchen appliancesOur recipe uses 200g of flour, plus milk, sugar, oil and baking powder. 
  • Flapjacks – a classic. Try 100g of oats, 50g of melted butter, 50g of light brown sugar and a dollop of golden syrup. 

Pieces of paper 

  • Everyone should divide up their own piece of paper using the same method as dividing up the cake.
  • Collect everyone’s pieces togetherYou could use them to make some art.  
  • You’ll probably want to use some more pieces of paper to represent donations from more people.  

Lovely leaves

Challenge the group to collect 100 fallen leaves. Two and a half leaves would represent 2.5% of the pile.   


What does everyone think about what they’ve learned? 

As Scouts, helping others is an important part of our Promise. Donating money is just one of many ways to help others, and it’s a personal choice – there isn’t any right or wrong way to approach it. Has this activity made people think about what they might want to do with their money when they’re older? What would it feel like to give some money to charity? 

It’s important to remember that everyone’s situation will be different, and not everyone can afford to give money away – can people think of some other ways that they can support others?


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


Remember to check for allergies, eating problems, fasting or dietary requirements and adjust the recipe as needed. Make sure you’ve suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods. Take a look at our guidance on food safety and hygiene.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

If it is too challenging for everyone to find 2.5% on their own, one person could show everyone and they could copy step by step.

This activity is designed to be inclusive of those who might struggle with numbers. If you’re cutting things up into quarters, you could suggest looking at a clock face – one quarter looks like 15 minutes (or the space between the 12 and the 3). 

Choose a food that everyone can enjoy together. You may need to buy some dairy free chocolate buttons or gluten free biscuits, for example.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Why not see if there is someone who’d be happy to talk to the group about how their religion influences how they use their money? You could ask parents and carers or other volunteers in your group. 

Does anyone in your group practise zakat? They might be interested in helping you to run this activity, and sharing their own insights at the same time. 


Everyone should have the chance to share what they know and what they think.