Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Our math play last week was focusing around money. As you can see, we really need to get to a Coinstar one of these days. I dumped it on the floor with my own objective to find out how many state quarters we have (I am hoping to use them for geography). Anna was delighted just to sort and name the coins. She planned to count them first, but clearly the amount of coins was somewhat overwhelming. But here is what we did:

  • Sorted out non-American coins that ended up in the change pile after my business trips and talked about the countries they came from (Israel, UK, Canada and a Euro Zone). It was a good “visual discrimination” exercise, and Anna was quicker than me in finding them.
  • Found state quarters – again, Anna was helping me to find “special quarters”.
  • Found some other “unusual” coins – a 50 cent coin and a dollar coin.
  • Piled up remaining quarters in groups of 4. Anna was really struggling to understand why we use groups of 4 and not groups of 5 as we usually do. She still doesn’t quite grasp that 4 quarters make a dollar. Then we counted how many dollars we have.
  • Talked about the value of American coins. It’s interesting that Anna understands (or, rather, remembers) the numbers, but stumbles on the fact that she can make up, say, 8 cents, by using 3 cents and a nickel. I am already planning some shopping games to practice combining coins together (under 10 cents for now).
  • Coin Math My friend has reviewed an interesting iApp for kids – Jungle Coins. I deemed it to expensive and complex and got Coin Math app for my iPod. It is… OK. It does contain interesting trivia facts on coins and describes every state quarter, but matching the coins is kind of boring after the first couple of tries, and counting coins requires more math than my daughter currently possesses. Also – for whatever reason shopping doesn’t use coin combining in simpler problems – just a bunch of cents that need to be put on the counter. Then it directly jumps to using nickels and dimes and counting by 5 and 10. I do think that we will get some use out of it, but not for another year or so, I think it’s geared towards 6-8 age range.

Come and share your math activities at Math Links hosted by A Joyful Learner.


An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Since the older kids have been allowed to walk downtown on their own, I can't keep change in the house - I need to start a secret stash to work with the younger ones with.

MaryAnne said...

I've always found American coins particularly confusing - and no other country I can think of uses coins that are worth a quarter of their lowest denomination bill - usually they divide into fifths!

Ticia said...

When I taught my second graders always wanted to make change with just pennies. Drove me nuts.

Of course British coins are much worse to my mind.

Mom and Kiddo said...

I once dumped a jar of coins out for Kiddo to sort. I was surprised how fun it was for him!

Kim said...

We're doing coins and shopping today! Crumpet totally doesn't get the concept of 4 quarters making a dollar, etc. I'm not sure when that's supposed to click.

Phyllis said...

Math on the Level is a good curriculum because it tells you what math concepts come in what order, but it lets you set up your math program as you wish.

Christy said...

Reagan is just beginning to grasp the value of each coin while Collin can add up the coins. He still forgets how many coins make a dollar though. I wanted to work on this more this summer, but the summer is flying by before my eyes and we only touched the surface.

I am completely ignorant about money from other countries so I found MaryAnne's comment very interesting.

Pathfinder Mom said...

The "Coin Counting Book" shows some good concepts for counting coins. TB still struggles with this a bit, even though he's adding well. Lessons in skip counting by 5's and 10's help, along with "counting on" lessons.

Joyful Learner said...

I love that you have so many interesting coins. I want to start a coin collection of different countries.

We've done work with coins but nothing stuck yet. JC gets excited when she finds coins on the ground and so far she has a "lucky penny" and a "lucky dime". She doesn't care how much they are worth...just the fact that they are lucky. :)