My daughter has been expressing interest in learning more about coins. I thought I should share what we have been doing !
We started the exploration with the book Dollars and Cents for Harriet, from B and G Maestro. It is one of the books listed as highly recommended in The wonderful world of mathematics ( Thiessen, D., Matthias, M., & Smith, J. (1998), see here ). Indeed, I like how the concept of money is introduced through the story of Harriet, a young elephant who wants to buy herself a gift (suspense until the end of the book !). Through small jobs, she collects a variety of coins until she has enough to purchase her gift. My child loved the book, and have read it on her own several times since (on a side note, there are more Harriet concept books, including some on Time. I am going to check them out, as my child is studying this concept this year at school. Stay tuned…)
Then, we looked at the coins my daughter has been gathering around for years, and sorted them. We identified them in the book. We discussed the value by using the base Ten blocks (not familiar with the base Ten blocks? Click here). For the record, you can use paper clips or Legos®, as long as the child sees visually that different coins have different values, it should work as much.
After that, we played ! My child decided to sell tiles. How much for 5 pink tiles? How about this precious lonely brown tile? And so on.
And finally, we went on a field trip. And a hunt for items that would be less than $1. I must admit I was surprised, we found more items than I thought (made sense once I realized that many fruits were sold by the unit). 19 cents for a banana, 79 cents for an orange, 29 cents for a lime. We could not find a box of cereal for less than a dollar, but we did find a pretzel stick for 99 cents i.e. almost a dollar. We noticed that it was cheaper to buy a sweet onions than a red onions.
We ended up paying… with my credit card. That’s what you get, kiddo, when you have a mom who grew up with Francs, switched to Euros when she was 26, and switched again to Dollars when she moved to the U.S. :-)