When it comes to money, it can be a challenge for first graders to keep coin names and their values straight. But being able to identify coins is not only an important part of growing older; it's also a good math skill to learn. In this activity, get your first-grader invested in naming and counting his coins by helping him build a coin bank!
What You Do:
- Make a divider for the inside of your coin bank, using the sturdy cardboard. Measure the coffee can’s diameter and height, and cut two rectangles to that size. Lay each one vertically on a table. Cut a slit halfway across each one, and halfway up.
- Slide the two pieces into each other along the slits, so that you have a four-part divider that looks like this:
- Place the divider inside the coffee can, and use a hot glue gun to attach the divider's edges to the bottom and sides of the of the can.
- Now you’re ready to label and decorate your coin bank. Start by taking out a quarter, dime, nickel, and penny. Have your child place a sheet of plain white paper on each coin, and with a crayon, make two rubbings of the front, or “head” and one rubbing of the back, or “tail.” Here's an example:
- Use the exacto knife to cut four coin slots in the plastic top of your coffee can. You’ll want to place each slot over one section of the four-part divider. Make each slot match the size of one coin, and then glue on a rubbing of the matching coin, next to the slot.
- Cut the piece of construction paper to the size of the can. Glue or tape it securely to the can. Invite your child to glue on the remaining coin rubbings to the lid, and write the names of the coins they represent in clear block letters. He should add any other fun decorations to the can he likes.
Making a bank is the perfect activity to get your child to practice handling money while improving his math skills at the same time. Not only will he be able to recognize coins and use his skills in counting by ones, fives, tens, and twenty-fives, but it's also a good opportunity to discuss the importance of saving money. Get your child to use his bank when he gets his allowance or any money for doing a special chore, and with luck, he’ll be well on his way to a solid understanding of why and how to save.
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.