When Smiley was two years old, the only candy he knew about was the chocolate chips we use for baking, and white tic-tacs.
After lunch and dinner, his reward for finishing his meal was two Dessert Choices. Usually he picked two chocolate chips.
When he became three years old, his meal sizes had increased, and he advanced to three Dessert Choices.
During his third year he learned about other kinds of candy. Some he even got to have as options for dessert. For each new option, I assigned how many Dessert Choices it counted as. Small candies like jelly beans were one Dessert Choice. Medium candies like gumdrops were two Dessert Choices. Large candies, like a miniature candy bar, were three or four Dessert Choices.
When Smiley turned four, he advanced to four Dessert Choices after lunch and dinner. But then the advancement stopped. He recently turned seven, and still only gets four Dessert Choices.
But the size of a Dessert Choice has inflated over the years. And I have started to use this system to teach him fractions.
Here is his current menu of dessert options.
(The chocolate chip corner is currently used for miscellaneous small things, and the day I took this photograph happened to be out of chocolate chips.)
Smiley has no trouble understanding that two fourths added to one-and-one-half equals two. He does that type of fraction addition almost daily.
The only drawback is that the current system is too complex for his little brother. Gallant is about to turn four, and is ready to move from negotiating for dessert to the old version of Dessert Choices without fractions.
Perhaps I should buy him his own two click-clack boxes? But even if I label the four boxes with the name of which boy each is for, I predict having two dessert "currencies" might be confusing.