Porkbarrel Spending

Life is pretty crazy right now.  I spend a lot of time on the west coast, and since we pair-program all the time I usually work a west coast time when I’m home in NY.  That makes for an interesting schedule with many challenges and opportunities.  We had some big production issues last night and my 2nd grader was not happy that I was absorbed with work during the time when we usually play a game before she goes to bed.  I told her we’d make up for it this morning.

One of the huge bonuses of the weird schedule is that my mornings are free to help my wife with homeschooling our brood.  I’ve been doing math with the aforementioned 2nd grader and we’ve been working through a chapter on money (counting/rearranging coins, etc).  So after we were done this morning, it was time for the makeup from last night.  She was counting on playing a game of Pass the Pigs.  Since she’s doing all coins at or under $1, and since in the game you accumulate points to 100 based on how the little piggies roll (it’s really great fun if you haven’t tried it), it was perfect.  We played a couple of games of Pass the Pigs, and she had to keep score for both of us using coins instead of a point tally on a sheet of paper.  After you stopped and accumulated your coin from your turn, I would make her rearrange the coins to get it down to the minimum number for the value.  Once she got into the groove, she got faster and faster and was doing more of it in her head.  It was awesome.  Yet another example of how games are the perfect avenue for teaching, and how the brain is more engaged during play than any other time.

I was amazed at how using money instead of points changed the risk of the game as well.  I am usually pretty cavalier in that game, and often lose huge points because I pushed it too far.  By having coins in front of me instead of an abstract number, I found myself playing much more conservatively.  She didn’t seem to have the same approach, but she’s only 6 so money doesn’t exactly translate the same in her brain.  It made me wonder if people would treat the stock market differently if they were handling actual cash instead of stock certificates or shares.  Something about actual currency clarifies risk like nothing else.