Once your third grader has mastered counting coins up to $1.00, in school he'll begin to working numbers that make up larger dollar amounts. Chances are, he'll want to go to a store and make a purchase using his own allowance and savings. In which case, he will need to know what bills and coins he'll need to make his purchase. And when it comes to numbers, practice makes perfect. This activity will not only help him practice his math skills, like counting and addition and subtraction, but it will also give him a chance to learn more about things like purchasing and money exchange, which are important concepts to learn as he grows up.
What You Do:
- Begin this activity with a warm up. Show your child a greeting card, toy or book and state the price. Have him arrange his bills and show what he would use to buy the card. Provide him with assistance if needed. Challenge him to come up with different dollar and coin combinations to reach the same amount.
- You will need to either collect (you can use cards that are already used) or make a collection of greeting cards and write prices ranging from one to five dollars on the backs of the items. If you decide to make your own greeting cards, have your child make cards for various occasions using the unlined paper. Be sure he writes the prices on the backs. When the cards are completed, display them on a table for a "shopper" to browse the selection.
- Choose one person to be the cashier for the card shop and at least one more person to be a shopper. Recruit Moms, Dads, siblings, grandparents, etc. to shop or take turns being the cashier in the card shop. Each person will select a greeting card and will give the cashier the appropriate number of bills and coins. The cashier should check that the amount is correct. You may want to have the shopper count the dollars and coins aloud for the cashier. (Everyone will most likely need to share the same money and use it more than once for multiple purchases.)
- Allow your third grader to take turns playing both the role of the cashier and the shopper.
You can also do this activity with things other than greeting cards. A collection of baseball cards, for example, or any toys you have lying around the house. Just be sure not to write the prices on anything that you wouldn't want to be written on! A small piece of paper with the price will work just fine, if you prefer. This activity will allow your child to practice his counting skills and prepare him to make purchases on his own the next time you travel to the store together. You may be surprised at his new found confidence and purchasing skills!
Victoria Hoffman, M.A., is an elementary school teacher, writer and mother from Leonardtown, Maryland. She has taught grades K-5 in both regular and special education classrooms.