Counting money and making change can be a big challenge for second graders.
Among the Grade 2 Common Core Standards for math, children must be able to solve problems involving money (2.MD.8). To an adult, the skill may seem simple enough. But teachers know that solving problems with money amounts requires a number of prerequisite skills including counting, skip-counting, money sense, and when to apply which bit of know-how.
One of the best ways to support your child’s developing money skills is to “play store.” Invite your child to take turns with you, role-play being the consumer and being the cashier. In other words, model how to use their imaginations!
What is hard about making change?
Children have to integrate a number of difficult skills to understand how to make change. Each skill, on its own, is one level of learning. Calling on the needed skill to complete the task requires a higher level of understanding. First they need to decide which coins to use, and then count on by 1, by 5, or by 10 from a given number. Once they have counted out all the change, they then need to add up the coins to find the amount of the change. There is a lot going on here!
You can use these links and ideas to build the counting skills and coin recognition skills kids need to master problem solving with money.
1) know the value of coins Download pdf.
2) trade coins to make equal amounts
Use your pocket change to make simple coin exchanges with your child. As you ask each question, have your child count out an equal amount.
“How many pennies are a fair trade for a nickel?”
“How many pennies are a fair trade for a dime?”
“How many nickels are a fair trade for a dime?”
“How many ways can you use coins to make 25¢?”
3) count on from numbers other than zero Practice online.
4) skip count from numbers other than zero Practice online.
Whew! That’s a lot to integrate and to do it well takes some regular and repeated practice.
For problem solving where making change is needed, imagination is key. When children have acted out money transactions, they can more easily call up and integrate the counting skills involved in making change and then figuring out how much change was given out.
So, in addition to practicing advanced counting skills, harness your child’s imagination by playing Store and help make skills practice meaningful.
Here are some picture books to fuel your child’s imagination. Look for these at your local library or online.
General Store by Rachel Field, illustrated by Giles Laroche
This picture book, based on a lovely poem, invites children to imagine what they would sell if they had a store. The collage illustrations inspire a related art project.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
This picture book tells a story of how a small family saves to buy a hardworking mother a comfortable chair. A coin jar is part of the story and invites children to count handfuls of coins. Are you studying communities? This book integrates well into a social studies unit on how people in communities help one another.
General Store (Historic Communities) by Bobby Kalman
This photo-realistic picture book helps children imagine what an old-fashioned general store used to look like and is perfect for a Then-and-Now social studies unit.
Pigs Will Be Pigs by Amy Axelrod
Each member of this cartoon family scours the house for loose change, enough to go out to dinner at the Enchanted Enchilada.
Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
This classic picture book follows Alexander through a week and sees how he spends his allowance.