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Teaching Money

I have spent the past 6 years trying to find and create quality activities to support and teach my students coins.  Before even looking at the activities, it is important to consider the prior skills your students have acquired that will impact their ability to learn about money.  Once you have a solid progression set up, you will notice that your students are far more able to make connections between mathematical concepts, and they master coin counting skills much faster.  This is the progression of skills I taught in my small math groups this year:

1.  Introducing Ten Frames

2.  Counting on from ten
3.  Counting sets of ten and ones on ten frames
4.  Counting ten sticks and ones (with unifix cubes or base ten blocks)
5.  Introducing the Hundred Chart
6.  Skip counting by tens up to 100
7.  Introducing tally marks- Learning how to count by fives and tens
8.  Introducing Pennies
9.  Introducing Dimes
10.  Introducing Nickels
11. Introducing Quarters and Dollar

Once you have a solid progression set up, you will notice that your students are far more able to make connections between mathematical concepts, and they master coin counting skills much faster.Now, what centers can your students work on to support, reinforce and extend their thinking around money?  

Here are some of my favorite center activities and games:

Understanding that 10 pennies is the same as 1 small dime can be difficult.  Pennies for Dimes is  great beginner game to reinforce the concept of 10 pennies being exchanged for 1 dime. Additionally, Pennies for Nickels helps reinforce a similar concept of exchanging 5 pennies for 1 nickel.

Coin Grab is another great game that helps students begin practicing counting a collection of coins.  I give students a cup filled with coins. (I only include the coins they have been introduced to thus far!) Students take 6 coins out of the cup and record them on their work page.  Then, they determine how much their collection of coins is worth and write down that amount.  I use 4 different versions of this game throughout my unit.  The first level only asks students to count collections of dimes and pennies.  The second only asks students to count collections of nickels and pennies.  The third level combines pennies, nickels and dimes.  Once students have been introduced to quarters I have them try the fourth level of this activity.  

I Can Make It is almost the reverse activity of Coin Grab.  Here, I have given the students an amount and ask them to create the collection of coins that would match that amount.  Again, I made 4 different levels of this activity so that I can repeat this game at each stage of this unit without having to explain a new activity.

Perhaps you are familiar with the game Kaboom!  We use Kaboom! for sight word practice, vowel sounds, addition and subtraction facts...etc.  Here, we have found yet another way to use this great game in our math centers.  It's quite easy to make.  I chose to use some of the plastic coin manipulatives from my classroom, but you can also use stickers with coin images on them.  Above, you can see the finished product.  I just used a hot glue gun to adhese the coins to the popsicle sticks and created a variety of combinations (Again, you can differentiate by creating games using only pennies and dimes, or only nickels and pennies...etc.)  Finally, write Kaboom! on two or three popsicle sticks and add them to the cup.  How to play?
1.  First student picks a stick from the cup.
2.  If they identify the correct amount, they get to keep it.  If not, they put it back in the cup.
3.  The next student takes their turn and repeat.
4.  When a student pulls out the Kaboom! stick, they have to take ALL of their previously earned popsicle sticks and put them back in the cup.
5.  This game NEVER ENDS!!! Just another reason to love it!

Loose Change is a great card game that I use to enrich my students who are able to count collections including all 4 coins up to a dollar.  This game involves a lot of strategy, and they LOVE IT!
I have put together a bunch of the activities above (and plenty more!) into a bundle in case you would like to try them in your own classroom.  Check it out!


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