Fun Ways to Teach Children How to Recognize and Count Money

Over the next few weeks, our blog posts will feature a mini-series focused around how to help children develop money-importance skills. While it is our hope these posts will provide helpful and useful information, they are filled with mere suggestions; how you go about educating your child in regards to finances is ultimately up to you as each child is different. Thank you and please enjoy.

Although they might not understand the entire concept of the value of the dollar quite yet, most children do know what money is and that you need it to survive. A good time to start helping kids learn how to count money is usually when they’re in 1st or 2nd grade. Chances are it will take more than a day for your kid to truly catch on entirely, but it will be fun to see the progress they make as time goes on.

 01: Create an Anchor Chart

An anchor chart is a colorful chart that is created at the time of presentation. Give your child a blank piece of paper and some colorful tools so they can join in on creating their own alongside you. To avoid running out of space, only write down the major points on the chart. A good idea with a money anchor chart is for each of you to draw a dollar bill and what each coin looks like on the front and back as well as its worth. Make certain each of you save your anchor charts in safe places and have them handy for each lesson. You might even consider putting them on display in a prominent place in your household.

 02: Skip-Counting

One important principle of how to count money is having the skill of skip-counting. If your child doesn’t already have this skill-set, it might take a little while for them to catch on, so patience is key. Money here in the U.S. is based on 100, so your child should learn how to count in 5s, 10s, and 50s to 100. Practice this daily to make sure they master this.

 03: Songs about Money

Having little riddles or songs about each coin and dollar is a wonderful way to help your child remember what each one looks like and their value. The internet is a great place to find different lyrics or, if you’re the creative type and feeling adventurous, making up your own might be even better. As always, take a little time to recite these with your kid each day and make sure you don’t forget to use those anchor charts as visuals.

 04: Classifying and Sorting

Once your child has conquered the skill-set of skip-counting and can identify each coin’s characteristics, the next step is to have them sort some money hands-on. Give them either some real money or some accurate replica play money to practice with. Have them sort them depending on color and size. There’s a good chance the pennies will be the easiest for your kid to sort out based on its copper color, but they might get confused with the nickels, dimes and quarters because those all have the same silver color. Help them distinguish them based on size and look.

 05: Focus on One Coin

Take time out to focus on just one coin at a time. Go at the pace of your child for learning and don’t rush it. Start with the penny and if it takes your child a day, week or even a month for them to learn about it, that’s okay. Discuss the penny’s attributes with them, ask them what they notice about it, talk about the coin’s color, what’s on the head and tail’s sides, and its value. Then practice counting with it. Over time, tell and show them how many pennies it takes to make a dollar. After they understand that concept, do the same with nickels, then dimes, then quarters as well.

 06: Mixed Coins

After your child has practiced the above and understands how to skip-count and how to identify each coin plus what each one is worth, they should be ready to count different coins together. For this step, you want to make sure they learn to count from greatest value to least. This means you want to teach them to start with quarters, then dimes, nickels and the pennies last. It can be easy for them to feel overwhelmed at this point, so it’s a good idea to keep the amount small to start off. Two different types of coins are ideal at the beginning then, when you believe they’re ready, add in others. Perhaps five or six coins total at a time is a good number.

 When it comes to all of these steps, try to have patience, have fun, and make sure your child is having fun as well. Don’t pressure them too much into learning too fast, but be encouraging and stay positive. You’ll be thrilled to see the progress unfold right before you.