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Security money

Can you tell the real deal from the fakes in this money making match?

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You’ll need

  • Pens or pencils
  • Scrap paper
  • Aluminium foil
  • Needle and thread
  • Paintbrush or cotton bud
  • Lemon juice
  • UV paint and blacklight (optional)
  • Example coins and notes (optional)
  • Devices with access to the internet (optional)

Activity summary

This activity gives everyone the chance to learn about the security features on our currency, so they can learn to spot any fakes or forgeries. Everyone will work in teams to create some of their own super secure money, then they’ll put it to the test by trying to copy another team’s notes.  

If you’ve already completed Coin design, you could the designs as a starting point for this activity.

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Step 1: investigate different security features

  1. Everyone should split into smaller teams of 3 or 4 people.
  2. Give each group some example notes or some information about notes from the Bank of England.
  3. Each team should chat about some elements of the notes that they find interesting. Can they spot any security features?

Why are these security features are important? What would happen if people could copy money more easily? How else might some of these features be helpful? For example, someone who’s blind could feel the raised print on the notes.

  1. Each team should take it in turns to share some of their ideas with the wider group.

Step 2: make some money

  1. Now it’s time to get creative! Each team should think about the features they’ve just talked about and choose some to include on their own banknotes.
  2. Give everyone pens, paper, and equipment that’ll help them add security features to their notes.

Check out ‘fake security features’ for some ideas about what you can use to add security features.

  1. Everyone should work in their teams to create their own money with different security features that will make it much harder for other teams to forge their notes.
  • Use thread to weave a pattern through the paper.
  • Create a watermark using lemon juice – hold the note up to the light to make it visible.
  • Add secret features using UV or glow-in-the-dark paint.
  • Add tiny micro lettering. How small and exact can you make it?
  • Think of way to create texture for those who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Add a shiny foil feature.
  • Use foil to make embossed images.
  • Include shapes on one side that you can see from the other side if you lift the note up to the light.
  • Include references to people, places, or words that matter to you.


Step 3: real or fake?

  1. Once everyone’s had enough time to create some of their own super secure money, they should swap their new currency with another team.
  2. Each team should spend a few minutes investigating their new notes – what security features can they spot? How hard would it be to copy them? You could set a timer for a minute or two to make things more interesting!
  3. Everyone should work in their teams to try to make a copy of the notes. They should copy the design and any of the security features that they spotted.
  4. Everyone should come back together as a group. They should compare the original notes to the ones another group forged. Can people tell which ones are fake?
  5. Think about whether it was easy to tell them apart. What did people use to spot the differences? Were some features easier to spot and copy?


What did people learn in this activity? Did they find it difficult to tell the fake notes from the originals? Why is security so important for real money? How might someone feel if they got a fake note? When might people check for the security features to make sure notes were genuine?


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.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe. Take a look at our online safety or bullying guidance. The NSPCC offers more advice and guidance, too. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection CommandAs always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare, including their online experiences, follow the Yellow Card to make a report.

  • To make it more of a challenge, give each group different equipment. Now they’ll only be able to create certain features on their notes. They may have to work with other groups and strike a deal to be able to make their forgeries!
  • If you have more time, keep swapping notes in real or fake? – can people copy all of the other teams’ notes?

If anyone in the group struggles with fine motor skills, make sure that there are some features they can help create.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Take a look at more money skills activities.

The young people should be able to decide which features they include in the note. What’s important to them?