Show Me the Money! A Math Guessing Game

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Photo by Randen Pederson via Flickr

Money is pretty irresistible to kids, and managing it is, of course, a crucial life skill. Not surprisingly, then, it’s a standard part of most first grade curricula, and teachers help kids gain familiarity with it in all sorts of creative ways. Here’s an irresistible guessing game that will help your kid recognize pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars which will help him later with a wide variety of math lessons (and shopping trips, of course!).

What You Need:

  • 5 of each coin: pennies, nickels, dimes, & quarters
  • 1 half-dollar coin
  • Brown paper bag
  • Pencil
  • White construction paper
  • Crayons

What You Do:

  1. Start by putting all the coins in front of your child, and ask him to sort all pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and the half dollar into their own groups. Talk as you go, and hold up individual coins to assess what your child already knows. Ask, “What is this coin called?” (“A penny.”) “How much is this coin worth? (“One cent.”)
  2. Have your child place all of the coins into the brown “feely bag.” As your child pulls out one coin at a time (without looking in the bag), have her tell you its name and value. You may want to ask questions before she pulls out each coin, such as: “What does the coin feel like?” “Is the coin big or small?” “Can you tell me anything about the picture on the coin just by feeling it?” “Which coin do you think it is?” As she finishes guessing, let her take a peek, then lay each coin on the table. Repeat this process until all of the coins in the bag are gone.
  3. Have your child use the white paper and crayons to make “coin rubbings.” Tell her to place one coin on the table. Then have her lay the white paper on top of the coin and use the crayon to color, by pressing down on the paper. This will make a print of the coin. Your kid can then turn the coin over and make a rubbing of the other side. Using the pencil, have her label each rubbing with the coin’s name and its value. Repeat this process for each type of coin.
  4. The first time you try this, your child may have trouble identifying the coins. But soon, he’ll know them well. Plan to do this lots of times; after all, money—and math—will be important parts of your child’s life for years to come.

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