How to Teach Your Child to Count Coins

by Maggie McCormick

The mathematical skills that your child learns in the early years builds a foundation for future success in mathematics, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Children often begin to show an interest in coins, as well as the ability to count them accurately, around age 5 or 6. Work with your child to build his coin-counting skills.

Practice skip-counting skills. In order to properly count coins, your child needs to be able to skip count. To do this, you can write out the numbers, highlighting only multiples of five, 10 or 25, the essential multiples needed for counting coins. Once she feels comfortable doing this, you can move on to coins.

Ask your child to sort a handful of coins.

Teach the value of nickles by placing five pennies next to the nickle. Tell her that the value of one nickle is the same as five pennies. This visual helps with comprehension.

Practice counting nickles by fives to get the value of differing amounts of nickles. If your child is struggling with skip-counting, you can again place five pennies next to each nickle and have her build the skill by counting the pennies.

Introduce the dime. Show the value of a dime by creating three piles -- one with a single dime, one with two nickles and one with 10 pennies. Explain that these all have the same value.

Practice counting dimes, nickles and pennies. Start with counting piles of just one type of coin, then mix the types together.

Demonstrate the value of quarters by showing a quarter next to 25 pennies. Next to that you can also show five nickles or two dimes and a nickle.

Challenge your child's understanding by offering to let him keep one pile of coins. Set out a few piles of coins. To properly do this, the child should count the value of each pile, then choose the pile with the greatest value. Try to trick your child by having one large pile comprised mostly of pennies, with a smaller pile comprised mostly of quarters. If your child really gets the concept, he'll choose the pile with quarters because it has greater value.

Repeat these activities on different days. Your child may not grasp the concept on the first attempt. Practice makes perfect.

Items you will need

  • Coins


  • As your child masters U.S. coins, consider increasing the challenge by using coins from another country, which might have coins with a value of 50, 100 or even 500.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

Photo Credits

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