Teaching Coin Values

Teaching the Kids the Difference Between Coins

Pennies From Heaven

Learning is fun when you can set it to music. Use a song that has penny or pennies in the lyrics, such as “Pennies From Heaven,” or “Penny Lane” by the Beatles. Give your child several pennies to hold while you sing or play the song. Have your child inspect the coin and tell you what he sees. Ask questions like, “Who is the face on the coin?” and “What picture is on the other side?”

Fistful of Dimes

Explain that a penny, or cent, is worth one, like one finger, and hold up a finger. Have her put her fingers flat on a surface and put a penny at the end of each finger and thumb -- one penny for one finger and thumb. You can use the same concept for nickels and dimes. Change the allocation of coins as one nickel for one fist -- five fingers -- and one dime for two fists -- 10 fingers. See how many nickels or dimes she can hold in her hands.

Coin Collection

On a piece of cardboard, tape two pennies, two nickels, two dimes and two quarters, each showing a different side of the respective coin. Label his collection with the written name and the monetary value of each coin. For example, above the quarter you would write “quarter” and “25.” Underneath each coin, draw the number of rabbits that correlate, or whatever item is relevant for the age of your child. Put this on the wall above a piggy bank or other receptacle. As he collects his coins, have him explain what each one is and how much it’s worth before saving it in his bank.

Name That Coin

On a piece of paper, have your kids draw each coin, both sides. The picture doesn’t have to be perfect. and they can use a real coin to draw it from. Beside each coin, have them write what it is and its worth. This is going to be their reference. Now create a pile of mixed coins. Give them various tasks, such as “Pick out two pennies and a dime from the pile,” or, if their money skills are more advanced, “Choose enough coins from the pile to make up $1.10,” or any other amount.

How to Teach Your Child to Count Coins

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.


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.