Children learn best in relaxed situations, such as playing outdoors. Parents and teachers who want to reinforce sharing as well as math skills can turn the backyard or playground into learning labs.
Too often, there is little room in primary curriculum for teaching about money. Yet children love learning about spending and saving, which requires understanding base-10 ideas, such as 10 pennies equaling one dime and 100 pennies having the same buying power as one paper dollar.
Following are two activities that help children learn about sharing, cooperation, the value of different coins and the base-10 system.
- Plastic or real coins (pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters)
- Plastic eggs
- Clipboards, paper and pencils
This is a good game to play after discussion of coin values, such as:
- How many pennies are in a nickel
- How many pennies or nickels are in a dime and
- How many dimes are in a dollar.
Place a combination of coins in plastic eggs to hide outdoors. It may be better to limit the coins to pennies, nickels and dimes for early primary students. Tell children to stop searching once they think they have accumulated a set amount (10 cents, 25 cents, 1 dollar) or when you blow the whistle.
After the hunt, have kids record their totals (outdoors, you’ll need clipboards). Then ask if anyone has the goal amount. If a student has 7 cents and the goal is 10, ask the group how many more pennies s/he will need to make 10 cents. Then ask for volunteers who have more than enough to share funds. Have students add up the final sum to see if the recipient now has the right amount or too much.
Using chalk, mark off a few long rectangles of equal length on blacktop and divide them into 10 squares about 18 inches long. Each square is worth 1 penny (or 10 cents, 1 dollar, 10 dollars, or 100).
Participants line up at a zero mark, and “Mother” stands beyond the end of the squares to command the players one by one to move by telling them, for example, to step forward “three pennies,” “20 cents” or “4 dollars.” As the game continues, Mother can also tell a student to step back by a specific amount.
Encourage players to share the money they are earning by going backward a step so someone else can move forward. Later, Mother may decide to reward a player who shares with an extra turn.
The game ends when a player reaches the goal amount (10 cents, 1 dollar, etc.) and becomes the new Mother.
Simple Stuff, Simple Fun
Play is fun. Learning can be fun as well by adapting lessons into games that may require only a few simple materials.