Play Money Games

by Sara Kendall

family-finance-winter2014-2Counting money is an important life skill. A basic math foundation is needed prior to learning how to count coins.

An introduction to money begins during the kindergarten and first grade school years. It takes a lot of practice to count coins correctly. Get your child ahead by playing these six hands-on games with them. Everything you need to play these games is sitting in your child’s piggy bank right now.

Name It Game
To visually recognize each coin is the first step to learn about money. Introduce each coin by telling your child its name. Let your child hold the coin and encourage them to look at both sides.

Learning what both sides look like is important.

Place a selection of coins in a bag or container. Ask your child to reach in and pull out one coin. Ask them its name. Continue for several rounds until each coin has been picked several times.

How Much is it Worth? Game

Next step is to show your child how much each coin is valued. Start with a nickel and explain to your child it is worth five cents.

Place the nickel down on a flat surface along with one block or one sticker on a piece of paper. One block or sticker will represent one cent. Do the same with a dime and quarter.

Your child will visually see the difference in values for each coin by seeing the amount of blocks or stickers placed by each one. It’s confusing for a child when a dime is smaller in size, but is worth more than the larger nickel. A visual exercise can help them understand the difference.

Place a pile of mixed coins in front of your child. Ask them to pick one up and tell you its name and value. Play until you think your child’s attention span is up.

Sorting Game

Gather four bowls or cups and label with 1¢ (if you still have some pennies), 5¢, 10¢, and 25¢. Place a mixed coin bag in front of your child. Ask them to sort the coins by placing them in the correct cup. This game is another way to reinforce coin recognition and how much each coin is worth.

Counting Change Game

Choose some coins from a mixed coin pile and count them out for your child. Start out with a small number. Show them how to choose the highest valued coin first to begin counting.

Combinations Game

Another way to count coins is by counting in 2s, 5s, 10s, and 25s. Get a group of pennies together (again, if you have some) and count by 2s. Then, count
nickels, dimes, and quarters in multiples.

Count each group up to one dollar. This exercise will show them many different ways to count to 100. It will help them down the road with multiplication tables, which are a big math focus in third grade.

Give Me Game

Place a pile of mixed coins in

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front of your child. Call out random numbers until the entire pile is gone. Remind them to first choose the highest valued coin to get started.

Start with the first game and once you think your child has mastered it, move on to the next one. Repetition is key to understanding coin names and values. Before long, your child will be helping you count change in the checkout lane.

Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mother of two daughters.

Photo: © Bruno Monteny