Every day, we make purchases online, at stores, or in restaurants. It’s typically not too difficult, considering that as adults, we’ve spent years handling and trading dollars and coins.

But if you’re a kid, a pile of change is more confusing than anything. So many coins, with so many shapes, sizes, pictures, and colors—how can they make sense of it?

It can be fairly easy to teach your kids the value of all of those coins, and all you need to start is a handful of pennies. Soon, they’ll be able to count how much they’ve stashed away in their piggy bank without having to ask for help.

Teach your kids about the value of money

Download the activity sheet

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What you need for the activity:

  • 30 pennies
  • “How Many Pennies” activity page — Download and Print [PDF]
  • Optional: pennies page—it is important that this page is printed in color as color is an identifying factor of coins

Using pennies, you and your kids will count up to find equivalents—10 pennies, for example, is equivalent to a dime, etc.

Full instructions:

  1. Read the activity directions
  2. Place pennies on the floor or on a table, or cut apart pennies from penny page.
  3. Read and refer to the table at the top of the page.
  4. Read the first question, and ask your kids questions: “If a nickel is equal to five cents, how many pennies are equal to a nickel?” Count out the pennies that are equal to a nickel. Encourage your child to count; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5: it’s a one to one correspondence.
  5. Work through the remaining questions. How many pennies are equal to a dime? (Encourage the child to use the table independently).
  6. Repeat for the quarter.
  7. Bonus question: How many pennies are equal to a half dollar? (Check for prior knowledge. If they do not know, introduce the topic. A dollar is equal to 100 cents. Half of 100 is 50. Therefore, a half dollar coin is equal to 50¢. There are not enough pennies to make 50¢. Does your child understand the one to one correspondence or do they need to count? At this point in the activity, they should realize that 50¢ is equal to 50 pennies. If they do need to count, encourage them to draw the additional coins needed.)

Talk to your kids!

Completing the activity is one thing, but you’ll want to make sure your kids understand what they were taught and can take something away from it. Try asking these questions, and continue the conversation to reinforce the lesson:

  • Which coin has the greatest value? How do you know?
  • Extend the activity: Using one penny, nickel, dime, and a quarter; Put the coins in order from smallest to largest.
  • Place one nickel and five pennies in two separate piles. Ask your child to describe the two piles. Which has a greater value? Repeat with other coins.

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