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Teaching Kids About Money: Tips, Methods & Activities

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  • 0:01 Teaching Methods for…
  • 2:53 Tried-And-True Tips
  • 4:11 Money Activities
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Money is a complex concept for children to grasp, not only how to count it but also its importance and impact on life. This lesson will explore methods of teaching basic money concepts, give tips on teaching practices and offer fun activities to support learning.

Teaching Methods for Money Concepts

Although they may not understand what each coin represents, or even how money actually works, most kids like money because they know it can be used to get them what they want. Teaching kids about money, especially how to count it can sometimes be tricky. Understanding money is a complex skill that relies on several abilities, including number sense and skip counting. Though challenging, you can teach young children about money using several simple steps.

  • Teach skip counting: Counting money accurately relies on the ability to count by ones, fives, and tens as well as a combination of all of the above. To avoid unnecessary confusion, make sure your students have a solid understanding of skip counting before beginning to teach money.
  • Explain: Young children may only have a limited understanding of what money is and how we use it. Tell them money is the used to trade for something we want, like toys, food, or haircuts. For further connections, brainstorm how money is used in their lives.
  • Identify: Bring out the coins and teach children the names for each. Start with the penny, nickel and dime. You may find many children already know the names, but make sure everyone is on the same page before you begin.
  • Assign value: After students can accurately name each coin, teach the value of each. Although it's tempting, now is not the time to teach which coin combinations equal another. Stay basic right now.
  • Count: Finally, what they've all been waiting for! It's time to count money. Only teach counting by one coin at a time. There will be time for putting it all together later. Count pennies first, up to about ten. Next, count nickels (here's where skip counting comes in) up to 100, then dimes to 100. Only move on to the next coin when students have a solid grasp on the previous.
  • Practice: Use real money, worksheets, plastic money and other methods to practice. This may take a while but it will be worth the time you put in now.
  • Switching: The last step is the trickiest for most children so take it slowly. Begin by guiding students to understand coin equivalents. Five pennies is the same as…. a nickel! Talk about whether they'd rather carry around fifty pennies or five dimes. For the first time they'll have more than one coin to work with and this will be super exciting. Ride the momentum wave by introducing switch counting with low values, such as counting out 10 cents using two nickels or 20 cents using two dimes. Move on to more complicated counting, such as making 33 cents, after the basics are understood.

All right, now we have them counting coins like pros. Let's take a look at some savvy ways to enhance instruction.

Tried-and-True Tips

There's no need to reinvent the wheel in education, especially with a skill that's been around as long as money has. Here are some tips for teaching money:

  • Practice a little every day. Don't wait for the unit on money to start teaching the lead-in skills necessary, like skip counting. Name coins during meeting time, mention them often, talk about value and make money a part of our everyday language.
  • Make it visible. Post large pictures of coins and their value in the room. When modeling counting, use a document camera or other devise all children can see. Counting money uses listening and seeing. Make sure students can see you working.
  • Connect to home. Send a letter home to parents explaining the money unit. Ask for their support by reinforcing coin counting skills at home or at the store. Ask for donations of coins for practice.
  • Use the 100's chart. Your 100's chart is a great visual tool to help kids count by ones, fives and tens. Use one as a whole class first, and then make copies for each student to use independently.

100 chart

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