Counting money can be a tough concept for children to learn. For me, our state standards require me to teach kindergartners how to identify coins and their values. But many of my children were more advanced than that and needed extensions. I gave them a quick lesson on counting same coins. This was particularly easy for them given all the prior skip counting work they had done on the short and long bead chains.

As I was planning a lesson on mixed coins, I thought of how much easier it would be for the children to learn to count them by incorporating the colored beads into the lesson. Now, I don’t know if this is already a Montessori lesson or not. My training is in Primary and I do not remember it from that training. But it may very well be a lesson from lower elementary. If it’s not, I’d be very surprised! It seems to make so much sense.

I simply laid out the coins from least to greatest amounts. Then I put a single red bead under the penny to represent 1 cent. Next, I put the light blue bead bar under the nickel to represent 5 cents. Then the ten bar under the dime and 2 ten bars and a light blue bead bar under the quarter to represent 25 cents. After I gave the lesson, the children practiced counting several small sets of coins. After a couple of examples, they were able to easily count any amount of coins (up to one dollar) that I placed in front of them, simply by laying them out and matching beads to them.

One of the biggest challenges that I face with teaching children to count mixed coins is how to transition from skip counting by 10’s to 5’s, or 5’s to 1’s. But by using the colored beads, it made it much easier to make that transition when counting.

In order for this method to be successful, the children need to be familiar with the colored beads and have practice in skip counting using the short/long bead chains. My next step will be to transition the children to drawing a pictorial representation of the beads. This is simply for testing purposes because they will not be allowed to have beads with them when taking district assessments.

Hope this lesson gives you some new ideas to use! Let me know how successful it is or if you run into any problems with it.