This activity is designed to teach the attributes of each coin (penny, nickel, dime and quarter), including physical characteristics and value.
- Benny's Pennies, by Pat Brisson; ISBN 0-440-41016-9
- There's a Hole in My Pocket, by Akimi Gibson;
- 15 Fun-To-Sing Math Learning Songs and Activities, by Mitzi Fehl
and Bobbie Williams; ISBN 0-439-18724-9
- The Coin Counting Book, by Rozanne Lanczak Williams;
- Money a Rich History, by Jon Anderson; ISBN 0-448-43205-6
Background for Teachers
This activity is designed to teach the attributes of each coin (penny,
nickel, dime and quarter), including physical characteristics and value.
Knowing the attributes of each coin aids in the identification of the coins
by name and value.
The Coin Information page provides detailed informaiton about each coin.
It is recommended that one of the assessments be
given as a pretest before teaching. Identify students who need
accommodations and extensions. You may choose to read Kathy
Barabas' Let's Find Out About Money prior to teaching this lesson, or
include it as part of your Invitation to Learn.
Intended Learning Outcomes
5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Pass out a penny to each child. Give them a few minutes to
examine the coin and then record their observations of physical
characteristics on chart paper at the front of the room. This chart paper
becomes your word bank for the students to refer back to throughout
the unit on money.
- Teach about the various attributes of the penny. As a check for
understanding, have students tell attributes back to you as you
add them to the word bank.
- Teach the Penny Poem. from the Coin Poems page.
- Interactively write what the class has learned about the penny,
referring back to the notes taken on the chart paper and the
large visual of the penny.
- Teach the The Pocket Song, using the penny to fill in the
- Repeat steps 1-4 with the nickel, dime and quarter.
- Give each child a Palm Pocket and a set of Palm Pocket Cards. Give clues about a penny, nickel, dime or quarter.
Have students figure out which coin/amount was described and
show by placing the appropriate card in the Palm Pocket.
- Introduce the coin cubes. In cooperative groups or at centers, the
students play the identification game with the coin cubes. Keep a
tally of how many times each coin is rolled using the Tally Them Up! worksheet.
- Invite students to independently write about the coins, using word
banks created on chart paper. They can use the A Penny For Your Thoughts page.
- To help students memorize the coin poems, take them outside and
let them chant the rhymes while jumping rope.
- Provide students the opportunity to transfer the data they collected
on their tally page to a bar graph.
- Integrate this unit with the integrated standard and objective on
water. Use the coins in a sink/float prediction activity.
- As a fast finisher or a center, provide a concentration game to
help students practice matching skills.
- Match coin heads with tails.
- Match value with coin.
- Match written name with coin.
- Create a Venn Diagram and as a class or in small groups.
Encourage students to compare/contrast two different coins (e.g.
the penny and the dime or the nickel and the quarter). Refer
students to the word banks created for each coin as they fill in the
- As an adaptation, put stickers/pictures up next to the words
recorded onto the word banks to scaffold for emergent/second
- Have students create their own "Pocket Books" with a page for
each coin, including the Pocket Song, the coin poems, and
stickers/rubbings of each coin. This would be a great portfolio
- You may choose to teach this unit in February (President's Day
holiday) and share nonfiction books about the four presidents
depicted on the coins.
- Create a file folder game with pockets. Students put correct coin
card in corresponding pocket, labeled with value in cents.
- For students who already know the attributes and values of the
penny/nickel/dime/quarter, teach steps 1-7 under Instructional Procedures on the half dollar and
- As you teach each coin, send home a coin with each child along
with a note for the parents to sign, indicating that his/her child has
told him/her about the value and characteristics of the coin. If
you don't want to send the actual coin, simply send a picture of it
or a stamp/sticker on the home note.
- Send a note home to parents, asking them to take out their"pocket change" for their child to identify by name and value
each night for a week.
- Assign students the task of sharing the coin poems with their
families and ask for a report back.
- Send home a concentration game that the family can make and
play together to practice identifying the coins.
- Have students write about each coin, including value,
characteristics, etc., using the word banks displayed in the room.
Allow students to do rubbings of the coins around the edge of the
paper. This makes a nice portfolio piece.
- Use Palm Pockets and questions to assess small groups on their
knowledge of coin characteristics and value.
- Have students match coin names with symbols on a worksheet or