Money Money Money- counting with 5 year olds

We’ve been working on the boys awareness of money over half term. Mostly because it’s on the National Curriculum and they’re going to have a test on coins and adding up but we thought it would give him a good idea of how much things cost. At the moment a toy is a toy to him, a £5 plastic Dalek doesn’t cost any more than a fifty pound video game.

So while Fifi and wifey were at a party and Danger was zedding away whatever evil bug he’d picked up, we cracked open the boys money box and began sorting the coins out into denominations. I left how to organise the coins to the boy but I did tell him we would need to be able to count them easily. Once he’d arranged them all (ironically ignoring the £10 note, thinking it was play money!), he set about counting them and making a note of how many of each coin there were. The 1ps won out, with 60 and despite being the second least numerous, with 4 coins, the value lay in the 50ps.

When I asked the boy which pile was worth the most, he naturally picked the pile with the most coins in it. To show him the comparative value of each coin, I piled up 50 1ps in a tower and put them next to a 50p, telling him that they were worth the same. After a bit of reflection and a furrowed brow, he decided the 50ps were the winners.

Then we were on to the discussion about what he could buy with it. He started off optimistically with some variant of the Skylanders game and ended up settling on a more realistic Doctor Who comic (he was equally happy with both and at times I’m convinced it’s the “getting” that’s important, not what’s “got”).

All in all, it went well, which just goes to show that you can trick boys into doing maths with the right incentive!

  • Brilliant! After our 3 year old DD cost us nearly £500 by posting a £2 coin into our car CD player (new battery and repair costs), we tried to give her an idea of the cost by telling her it was about the same as our holiday to Spain. She didn’t quite get it and breezily told us it was OK as she had lots of pennies and would pay! ;-) When she’s a bit older, I think an activity like this is an excellent idea. Thanks :-)

  • Nice one! I’ll try to remember that for when ours are a bit older

  • Nice tip. Do you think mine would notice me sneaking off with some of the toy box and buying a nice latte?!

  • Great idea, I’ll have to give this a try with my girls, they are about the right age and well, at least it will save me the job of sorting the coins in our jar :) Learning the value of things is an important lesson, and I totally agree with your comment about it being the ‘getting’ rather than what they got.