Grade K-2, 3-5

Big Banks, Piggy Banks

Updated: January 11 2021,
Author: Patricia Bonner

When choosing a place to put their money, people consider how safe their money will be, how easy it is to access, and whether it will earn more money. Students explore how well different savings places achieve these objectives. Students learn that people who don’t want to carry money with them or keep it at home often choose to put their money in a savings account at a bank or credit union. These financial institutions protect money from theft and other losses. They also pay interest on money deposited. This lesson works well as a follow-up to the ABCs of Saving.


Inform your students that there are many places where people can keep their money. Tell the students that depending on what they want to do with their money, some places are better than others.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of saving at home or saving in a bank.
  • Choose the appropriate savings place for having money easily available, having it earn interest, and having it be safe.
  • Recognize that saving means not spending.

Resource List

  • Where You Can Keep Your Money: Students can read along with this interactive activity that teaches them about places they can keep their money.
    Where You Can Keep Your Money
  • a tutorial website that explains the fundamentals of money and banking to children.
  • A Trip To The Bank: Students can complete this interactive activity to learn what belongs and what does not belong in a bank.
    A Trip to the Bank Interactive activity
  • This page uses text, illustrations and interactives to explain what happens to money thats put into a bank savings account and how banks work. It also teaches the meaning of the terms deposit, balance, and withdrawal.
  • Also using text and illustrations, this page explains what interest is, how people get it, and why the bank gives it to people. This page also teaches how to look at interest from the saver’s as well as the borrower’s point of view.
  • Big Banks, Piggy Banks Quiz: Use this quiz to assess your students understanding of this lesson.
    Big Banks, Piggy Banks Quiz
  • The American Savings Education Council: This page offers a Piggy Bank Wrapper that can be downloaded, printed and attached to a coffee can.
  • Savings Account Activity: The worksheet goes along with the deposit/withdrawal cards and allows students to practice keeping track of their savings account balance.
    Savings Account Balance Sheet
    Number Deposit/ Withdrawal Cards


 NOTE: Be sure to tell students what a credit union is. At this age, students should not be excepted to know what one is, and therefore, a definition of a credit union should be provided.


Follow along with this informational activity to learn all about where you can keep your money.


  • Where are some places people put money they carry with them? [Possible answers include a pocket, wallet, purse and backpack.]
  • When would keeping money in your pocket or a wallet be a good idea? [When you plan to use the money soon such as for school lunch or bus fare.]
  • What are some other places besides a piggy bank where you could keep money safe at home? [Containers may be a cookie jar, sock, glass jar, coffee can,. Locations for the container include a closet, drawer or cabinet.]
  • Why would putting your money in a bank be better than putting it in piggy bank? [When you have a lot of money that could be lost or stolen, you don’t want to use the money right away, and you don’t want to be tempted to spend it. Also if you want to earn interest.]


When you go to a bank or credit union, what would you expect to see? Complete this interactive activity to see if you know what belongs in a bank and what doesn’t!

More Fun! 

The Adventures of Interest Ray explains what interest is, how people get it, and why the bank gives it to people. Use the Space Bar to advance the stories. (if the file doesn’t show up right away; refresh your screen)


There are many different places people can put money and other things they value to protect the items from being lost or stolen. The advantage of putting money in a savings account at a bank or credit union is that money grows if it is deposited here. Banks and credit unions pay us interest for letting them use our money.

Extension Activity

  1. At the end of Adventures with Dollar Bill, students are given the option of taking a second online tour. The Adventures of Interest Ray explains what interest is, how people get it, and why the bank gives it to people.
  2. Download the Piggy Bank Wrapper and print copies for students to attach to a coffee can. Source: American Savings Education Council.
  3. Write the words “deposit” and “withdrawal” on the board. Put a plus sign next to the word “deposit” and tell the students that when people put money in a savings account at a bank or credit union they are making a deposit. Next, put a negative sign beside the word “withdrawal” and explain that people make a withdrawal when they take money out of a savings account. Divide the students into teams or small groups. Provide each group with a copy of the Savings Account Activity. Use the Number Deposit/Withdrawal Cards. Have the students shuffle the cards and stack them face down on a flat surface. To play, students take turns drawing a card from a stack. The student who draws the card must identify the value of the card and note if it is a withdrawal or a deposit. The student then adds or subtracts the amount to or from his or her balance (start the activity by provided each group with a starting balance). The other members of the team should check the player’s math. Have the students continue to take turns until they fill the last box on the sheet (or have a zero balance).
  4. Take a field trip to a local bank or credit union. Watch customers depositing money and take a tour of the vault. Find out how people use safety deposit boxes. Ask a manager to talk about the financial institution, telling how it works and what its workers do.