Activities to Teach Kids to Count Coins & Bills

by Dana Tuffelmire

Counting a pile of coins and bills requires the use of complex number skills. Children must know the values of individual coins and bills, know how to count by 25s, 10s, 5s or 1s, and be able to switch back and forth between them. Since there are different ways to count a large pile of money, your child also needs to employ a strategy that makes sense to her. Coin-counting games and activities provide engaging ways to learn and practice this important skill.

Dice Roll

Roll two or more dice to practice representing numbers monetarily. Gather a diverse pile of coins and several dollar bills in varied amounts. Ask your child to roll the dice, add the numbers and then represent the amount in coins. Beginners can start with pennies, trading them in for nickels, then dimes, and finally quarters. Once your child can easily count pennies, nickels and dimes, move on to quarters and dollars. Increase the difficulty by rolling three or more dice or trade coins in for dollars when your child reaches 100 cents. Show her how to count the coins and dollars separately to determine the total. Take turns with your child, modeling how you count by thinking aloud.

Hundreds Chart

A 10-by-10 grid with numbers 1 to 100, known as a hundreds chart, provides a visual example of skip counting. Familiarize your child with the hundreds chart first, pointing out the number patterns. Give your child a pile of pennies, nickels and dimes to start. Teach him to begin with the coin of the highest value, placing it on the hundreds chart and counting on. Given two dimes, two nickels and a penny, your child would place the dimes on numbers 10 and 20, the nickels on 25 and 30 and the pennies on 31 and 32 to determine the total amount. Help your child with several examples before asking him to try it on his own. When he successfully uses the chart to count a pile of coins, use the same strategy to practice counting dollar bills in varied amounts.

Adding Antennae

Drawing "antennae" or "hairs" on coins helps your child remember the value of each coin. Place a quarter on a piece of paper. Tell your child that she can draw antennae on each quarter to remind him of its value. Each antenna is worth 5 cents, so a quarter needs five antennae, dimes need two antennae and nickels need just one. Give your child a small pile of quarters, dimes and nickels. Ask her to sort and label the coins with antenna. Then, help her count by fives to determine the total amount.

How Much is Your Name Worth?

Assign a value to each letter of the alphabet to determine how much your child's name is worth. Create a chart for reference, where A=1, B=2, C=3, etc. Ask your child to write his name on a piece of paper and add up the letters. After he has determined the amount, ask him to make the amount in coins. As he progresses, add up the values in his first, middle and last name or the values of other names in your family. As the amount grows bigger, show him how to trade coins in for dollars.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images