by: Diane Flynn Keith
posted: March 3, 2005
Little kids become aware of money at an early age. It is a perfect way to introduce math concepts from sorting to counting and eventually it can help with learning how to add, subtract, multiply, divide and much more. Young children enjoy looking at and playing with money. (Of course, very young children should be supervised so that they don't put coins in their mouths -- a potential choking hazard.) Help your children learn to identify coins and bills and their value.
One simple way is to show your child a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, and a one dollar bill. As you show them the money, point out what color it is, it's shape, it's size, and the pictures and writing on each side of the coins and bill. Show them the number on the coin and tell them what it's worth. For example, "This is a penny, it's worth one cent." Remember, you are just introducing concepts and vocabulary -- it's okay if they don't "get" it yet.
Ask your child to show you a dime, a nickel, etc. Or ask your child to show you the coin with the number 5 on it, or with a picture of President Lincoln. Put a bunch of coins on the table and ask your child to help you sort them into piles of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Eventually they will be able to easily identify and sort the money.
Build Coin Towers:
If you have lots of coins, invite your child to stack the coins and build towers with them. (You can purchase rolls of coins at the bank.)
Get a big box or waste basket and try to toss the coins in the box from a distance.
Guess What Coins Are In The Purse:
Put some coins in an old purse. Ask your child to see if they can put their hand in the bag, and without looking, find a quarter, etc. -- just by feeling it.
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Money Exchange Activity:
To help your child understand how many pennies it takes to make up each coin and bill denomination, get 100 pennies. Have your child help you count out 5 pennies and show them that a nickel is worth five pennies. Do the same with a dime, quarter, and a dollar bill. Depending on the age and skill level of your child you can reinforce this information with this game:
You'll need dice and enough pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters for each player.
The object of the game is for one player to get a quarter first -- or in a more cooperative game, the object is for each player to get a quarter.
- Put all the coins in the center of a table. This is the bank.
- Take turns rolling the dice. For whatever number you roll, take that number of pennies. For example, if you roll a 3, take three pennies.
- Each time you accumulate 5 pennies, exchange them with the bank for a nickel. When you have two nickels, exchange them for a dime.
- Once one or all of the players have a quarter, the game ends.
Kids will begin to understand the fact that a nickel is worth five pennies, that a dime is worth 10 pennies or a nickel and five pennies or 2 nickels, etc. They will also begin to understand that fewer coins doesn't necessarily mean less money.
The reward for playing the game is that your child can keep the coins they win and put them in their piggy bank!
What? You don't have a piggy bank? Never fear....
Make A Paper-Mâché Piggy Bank
Complete instructions for making your own piggy bank
Or, for faster results...
Make A Coffee Can Bank
Complete instructions for an easy-to-make bank
Encourage your children to save money in their banks. Take it out and count it from time to time. Keep an updated slip of paper in the bank that has the date and how much money was in their bank on that day -- that way, your children will see that they have more money each time they add to the bank. They will see their savings grow.
Don't forget that Toy Cash Registers are inexpensive and available at most toy stores. Kids enjoy playing with them while reinforcing money skills.
After your kids begin to get an idea of what money is and what it's worth, take advantage of trips to the grocery store to practice their money and counting skills. I deliberately went grocery shopping when I knew the store wouldn't be too busy. I let my kids choose one item that they wanted.
When we went to the check-out counter, I gave my children the money they needed to purchase the item, and had them count it out to the clerk. Most clerks are very understanding and helpful in this process as long as there isn't a long line of customers waiting.
Although there are many computer games, flash cards, and workbooks to help young children learn money skills -- games and activities that you do together will yield better results. Stay away from anything that makes learning about money or math boring or stressful. Learning should be a fun, natural, and joyful process.
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