Teaching first graders about money is a layered skill. Students need to know the coin names, coin values, how to count by ones, fives, tens and even groups of 25 and they need to know how to organize and approach their coins so that their counting can be done in a manageable way. Over the years I have developed some tried and true favorite methods for teaching money that pull each of these skills together.
#1: Coin Names and Values
To teach coin names I start by reading a coin poem with my students which then serves as an anchor chart for our time spent focusing on money. I don’t know the origin of the poem I use so I am not going to post it here but I am sure you have heard it.
“Penny, Penny, easily spent. Copper brown and worth one cent! Nickel, nickel….”
Following the poem, I give each student a tray with 4 compartments as seen pictured above and I ask them to sort a large pile of coins. The only rules are that they need to say the name of each coin as they sort and they can’t sort two of the same coin in a row.
Following their sort, my students make a “mini money poster” coloring in the heads side of each coin, and writing in the name and value of each coin. If you would like a copy of the mini-money poster I use you can grab it (free) by clicking the picture.
This song is a fun (and addictive) way to practice coin names and values as well. For students who are working on coin names it’s a fun way to see and say the names of the coins. For others it’s a quick and easy way to remember some of the more common coin combinations.
#2: Counting Coins
When I first introduce counting coins, I jump head first into combinations of dimes and pennies. The reason for this is that my students have just come out of a place value unit in which they were focused on counting and recognizing the value of groups of tens and ones. After the “Mini Money Poster” above, I hold up a ten stick and ask students “Which of the coins is most like this ten stick?” I then repeat with the ones block. I have students build numbers out of the ten sticks and ones and then place dimes on the ten sticks and pennies on the ones. After a few examples they quickly understand how to count the value of the coins.
This counting by coins poster is another reference for my students to use. The kids love getting to be the teacher and pointing to the chart as the class practices together! When putting this poster together my students are easily able to count by pennies and dimes but they are generally not as fluent with nickels and they certainly aren’t fluent with quarters. We create this poster by coloring in the multiples of 5 and 25 on a hundreds chart to find the count sequence for five.
Research Based Strategies
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