• Allison Lee Pillinger Choi

The Tooth Fairy Teaches Civics!

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Make the tooth fairy's visit more than "payday" -- make it a fun lesson in American symbols and icons.

The average age for losing that first tooth is around six or seven years old. This means that when our kids say goodbye to preschool and hello to primary school (or primerry school, as we like to spell it), they also say goodbye to their baby teeth and hello to the Tooth Fairy! Losing your first few baby teeth is like a rite of passage, a milestone, and possibly a modest moneymaker.


We love this phase of childhood because it’s right in Primerrily’s wheelhouse -- a celebration of growth and civics. Yes, you read right -- we see civics as part of the Tooth Fairy’s mission. Both coins and bills are a conveniently compact treasure trove of American symbolism and history.


Whatever your family’s Tooth Fairy budget, you can reference many wonderful and often overlooked details on basic modes of U.S. currency (i.e. penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar bill). After the first few teeth say farewell, make the next few tooth departures extra special with less common kinds (e.g. Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, Sacagawea dollar coin, Kennedy half-dollar coin, Franklin half-dollar coin, Jefferson two dollar bill).



Our kids love learning and later recognizing the famous American profiles featured on various coins and bills. Beyond the people depicted, you can highlight other details on the front and the back, and why it was chosen to be there For instance, identify the mint year (finding a coin “born” the same year as your kid gets extra brownie points), patriotic words (e.g. “Liberty”), patriotic phrases (e.g. “In God We Trust”, “E Pluribus Unum”), the American Bald Eagle, Presidential Memorials in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. There is so much more to talk about than these examples! With a simple internet search, you might be learning new things yourself (as we have!) to pass along to your kids.

We’ve also found fun in pairing Tooth Fairy visits with this children’s book, Oh the Places You’ve Been. In this delightfully rhyming read, authors Ben and Mary Everard take us on a cross country (and outer space!) journey with an otherwise unassuming penny. Paying tribute to Dr. Seuss, Everard “explores how even small, long-forgotten things have amazing stories to tell.” We love these closing words: “Sometimes it’s the oldest and frailest of things / with the greatest of stories their full life brings. / Next time you see a penny alone on its side, / ponder for a moment as you break your stride. / Think of all the wonders that penny may have seen / and ask a simple question... / Where has your penny been?”


So when your kid loses his or her first few teeth, turn the Tooth Fairy’s visit into a celebratory civics lesson. Whichever special coins the Tooth Fairy decides to deliver, we love saving some (a value of Primerrily, and of Benjamin Franklin!), donating some, and treasuring others -- particularly the coin received for the first tooth lost. Incorporate it in a piece of customized jewelry or keepsake to celebrate an 18th birthday or the last baby tooth to say “so long.” If your kid’s pearly whites aren’t going anywhere soon, make any moment of cash or coin transaction (i.e. purchases, charitable giving) into an opportunity to chat about American civics, icons, and symbols.



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