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Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Math Literature: Identifying Coins

Several weeks ago, I shared with you that I had recently purchased this book and was anxious to use the ideas in it with students.

     If you have never heard of this book, it is full of great ideas for getting kids to think about money and finances.  My goal with K-2 students is to make sure they know where money comes from and how it is used.  The best part about this book is that all the lessons incorporate literature!  

     Today I want to share with you a lesson from this book that is great for identifying coins.  It is lesson 1.2 in the book entitled Beginning to Identify Coins.  It could be used with kids from pre-k up to grade 2.  I choose to do this lesson with first graders.

     This lesson could be done with any of the coins but I decided to focus on the quarter because this particular group of students already has good ideas and information about the other coins but always seems to be mixing up the nickel and the quarter.  I also think kids find the quarter challenging because there are so many different pictures on the back of it now with the 50 state quarters and the introduction of the National Park Quarters there are so many different things that kids might see on a quarter that it makes the job of teaching money harder.

I began the lesson with the kids on the rug in a circle.  We started by passing around a cookie sheet with coins on top and having everyone find and take a quarter.  Some kids needed to look at other kid's quarter to figure out what they were looking for and a few kids took a nickel and had to switch but it all worked out in the end.  I then had kids take a good luck at their quarter and tell their neighbor one thing they noticed about the quarter.  Then everyone returned to their desks where I had placed crayons, quarter sheets of scrap paper and tape dispensers.  I found that a small piece of tape rolled into a circle and placed under the coin goes a long way towards holding the coin in place. If your student desks are not as smooth or if you are doing this on the carpet, you could skip this step.

Next kids got to work rubbing with their crayons.  When I had put crayons out, I used our "rubbing crayons" which are older crayons missing their wrappers.  When we use these crayons, we most often use them horizontally so that is how kids started.  As you can see, this did not work well and only gave them an outline of the rim.  By holding the crayon vertically, they had much better luck.  The more gentle a student moved the crayon over the quarter, the better the rubbing seemed to come out.  Also darker colors seemed to show up better than lighter ones but when I took pictures of the rubbings, the lighter ones looked better.  Kids love doing crayon rubbings and figured out what worked best rather quickly.  As kids finished rubbing each side of the quarter, I let them come trade their quarter for another one and they were very excited to see different quarters.  After about 10 minutes, I had everyone bring their rubbings and the quarter they currently had back to the rug.  There they talked with a partner about their rubbings, shared what they learned and compared quarters.  I then pulled them all back together and we made a quick anchor chart about what we noticed and discovered about quarters.
My new favorite way to make anchor charts is by using power point and a handwriting font by Teacher Gems.  This gives me the homemade look without my terrible handwriting and poor spelling.  I can project it on the smartboard or projector depending on what classroom I am in.  I can save it for later, share it with other teachers or students and print it and put it on the wall if I want to.  

I used the math literature at the end of the lesson this time by reading Quarters to the class.  I like this book because it has big pictures and easy to read text.  It tells a bit about features of the quarter and goes into some details about the state quarters.  It is a level 7 book so many first graders can read this on their own.  After reading this book, we revisited and added to our anchor chart with the new information we learned about quarters.  This book was added to the students' shelf where they pick their own books for book boxes and such.  I love this series of books and purchased them several years ago from Scholastic but they look like they are currently out of print.  Your best chance to get this book right now would be to look for a used copy online.

To follow up our learning about quarters and to provide students with more practice with the other coins, I put together a quick math center for students to work on independently over the following weeks.  In it I included a dish of coins, crayons, quarter sheets of paper and this microscope.  The students have been having a great time studying the coins by making coin rubbings and looking at them under the microscope.  I like this microscope for this kind of activity because it make the coins bigger but not so big that you can't see the whole coin at once.  It also has been dropped on the floor repeatedly and has not broken!  It gives you a similar magnification as a magnifying glass but is easier for little kids to use and the kids think they are really cool using a microscope.  

We had a great time doing this lesson and can't wait to try out more ideas from this book!  

What are your favorite ways to practice coin identification?  Please respond in the comments below!

Head over to The Teacher Studio for more Loved That lesson posts!

Check out these other ideas for teaching money!


  1. Love it! You really immersed your students in the idea of "quarter"! I bet they will not forget! Thanks for linking up this month...see you next month as well I hope!

  2. I too have the book you mentioned about Quarters, as well as the other coin in that series. What a great way to tie it in with a solid lesson.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First