Financial Advice

Teaching Your Child to Count Money

Teaching Your Child to Count Money

Children might not fully understand the whole concept of money as a measure of value, however, many children like money because they do recognize it as a medium of exchange or method of payment. They generally realize that to buy something they want, they need it. Teaching kids to count money can be a little confusing at first for them, but it is essential since it is one of the basic concepts they will use throughout their lives.

You can introduce the concept of counting money once your child has a basic understanding of simple math. You will then move on to helping them identify different types of currency and their value, and fun counting games can help you do this.

Identifying Coins and Currency

Money comes in various sizes and shape. It also comes in paper and coins. The size doesn't matter — the denomination of money is what matters. Different units of money come with a specific value. While adults understand these simple facts, children may have problems with these facts.

Paper money currently in circulation comes in bills of:

  • $1.00
  • $2.00
  • $5.00
  • $10.00
  • $20.00
  • $50.00
  • $100.00

Current coins in circulation come in denominations of:

  • Pennies ($0.01)
  • Nickels ($0.05)
  • Dimes ($0.10)
  • Quarters ($0.25)

Of course, you might find also run across half dollar ($0.50) and dollar ($1.00) coins in your change, but they are a lot rarer to possess.

An essential concept you should convey to your children is that all U.S. money or currency has the dollar as the unit of value. Coins are only fractions of this unit and bills are multiples of this unit. One hundred pennies make up a dollar. Twenty nickels or five-cent coins also make up a dollar, and so forth.

When you can get your kids to understand money is based upon the dollar unit, it will allow you to further explain equivalents to them such as:

  • One dime will buy the same as 10 pennies
  • A dollar bill will buy the same as four quarters
  • Three nickels and one dime will buy the same as a quarter

Learning to Skip-Count

Before introducing money into your child's lesson, teach them how to skip-count. Skip-counting is where you count by multiples of 5s or 10s or 20s. It is a simple way for your child to count bills and coins of most U.S. denominations. Continue practicing skip-counting with your child until they can skip-count all coin values up to one dollar and 100 by 5s,10s, and 20s.

Counting Games

Here are some fun counting games you can implement with your child to make learning how to count money fun:

Hundreds Chart

Create a chart that has 100 squares, labeling each square in sequence with the numbers one through 100. Give your child a handful of different coins and tell them to place each one on the square representing the total value, having them begin with the highest-value coin and working their way down.

For instance, if you give your child three pennies, a nickel, two dimes and a quarter, they would begin with the quarter, placing in on the square with the number of 25. They would then place the dime on the square with the number 35 since the total of both coins comes to 35 cents. They then proceed by setting the next dime on the square with the number 45, the nickel on the square with the number 50 and so on.

Matching Game

Using single coins, create pairs of cards. On one card, put a photo of a coin (or tape a coin to a card). Then, write different coin values on separate cards. Shuffle the cards and have your child practice matching coin cards with its matching written value card. You can even try combining several coins on one card to make the game more of a challenge. Your child can practice adding up the values of the coins on a card with its corresponding written value amount.

Partner Match Game

Here is an excellent game for a group of children. Before starting the game, place sets of coins in individual plastic baggies. Make sure that each baggie has a mate that contains the same value of coins, but use different combinations of coins to match overall totals. To start the game, give each child one of the baggies. Their challenge is to find the partner who has their matching coin total.


Counting money is an essential functional skill for all children. For kids, learning to count money does not just provide them access to items they wish to buy, but it also provides them with the foundation for comprehending the base ten numbering systems that will help them later learn percentages, decimals and the metric system essential for technology, science, and even the social sciences.

Like all skills, using and counting money will eventually teach your child independence, but it all starts with "baby steps."

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