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Counting Coins

Counting coins is a critical math and life skill -- and one that a lot of children have a hard time with. Counting coins, which includes identifying coins and their values, skip counting, and skip counting from uneven starting points, can be complicated and takes practice.

The first two steps to counting coins include identifying common coins and their values:


Of course, students should also know that quarters are the largest, dimes are the smallest, nickels and pennies are medium sized. If students have a hard time identifying coins, it can also help to show them that nickels have smooth edges, whereas dimes and quarters have ridged edges. 

The next step is teaching students to count by one and skip count by 5, 10, and 25.  It's helpful to push children to know how many of each coin equal \$1 (100 pennies, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, 4 quarters).

Once students can identify coins and understand how to skip count, it's helpful to teach them strategies for counting coins:

  • Organize the coins by type of coin.
  • Organize coins into dollars, keep track of the dollars and set those coins aside.
  • When dealing with leftover coins, count by highest value coin downward.
  • If doing a worksheet, cross out coins as they get counted. 

When teaching the process of counting coins, use worksheets, real coins, and fake coins. And, if you can, integrate these lessons in with other lessons. Learning to count coins can be hard and tedious for a lot of students, and, interestingly, it's not a core skill in most classrooms, so a lot of students and parents are not sure how much to value it.  It's good to spend a little time on counting coins in each lesson, but not focus on it too singularly. 

When doing worksheets, start with worksheets that contain only one coin, then move to sheets with two coins, and finally to full integration.