For many young children, learning money values is no easy task. Here are four fun and engaging ways that can help parents teach little ones how to identify currency and understand its values.

Compare coins

Arrange a penny, nickel, dime and quarter on the table. Ask your children if they already know the names of the coins. If not, introduce one name per day. Start with the penny. Point out its colour and the smoothness of its edges. Tell your children that a penny is the same as one cent. The next day, do the same with another coin, but review the previous coin(s) studied by comparing the similarities and differences under a magnifying glass.
Alexandra Lutz

Create a store

Create a pretend grocery store with used boxes, cans, bags, etc. Label items with prices representing each coin value. Give your children wallets and let them buy items. Or put treats and some of your child’s toys in boxes marked 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents and 25 cents. Give your child a handful of each coin and let him practice buying things from you. Review their values and emphasize that a coin’s size doesn’t always tell its worth.
Sally Cressman

Be a detective

Help your children learn to identify coins by becoming coin detectives. Karen, an elementary education teacher, recommends hiding several coins of each denomination throughout a room. Then have your children search the room for specific coins. As an additional activity, encourage your children to make a rubbing of one coin from each denomination. The children can do this by placing each coin under a white sheet of paper and rubbing over it with the side of an unwrapped crayon. For the penny, use a copper-coloured crayon, and for other coins, a silver crayon. Then, the children can write the coin’s name and value next to the appropriate rubbing. Karen says the kids in her class have enjoyed playing detective while learning coin identification.
Teresa Turner Vining

Use chores

Beyond children’s everyday chores, assign different coin amounts to specific tasks and allow them to work for pay. Taking out the trash would earn one coin, and setting the table would earn more. Over time, different coin values will correlate with the difficulty of the chore.
Jennifer Bussey


From Focus on Your Child’s Discovery Years, October 2008. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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