Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Money Math

In my great effort to give the kids a well balanced and full rounded education in both American and Australian heritage, I've found that math can be the hardest. Why? Well, it's like this. The best homeschool math curriculum (for us at least) is Saxon Math. In fact, many Australian homeschool sites I've visited in an effort to see what other homeschooler use review Saxon as being one of the best.

Why is this an issue? Saxon is put out by an American company. Thus, all the work is imperial. This isn't a huge issue (yet), except when you can't find an American ruler. No, the bigger problem is money. You see, each day we count out some coins in one fashion or another. We might play store, we might just do a quick review, we might group, etc. We simply mess with the coins.

So in general I have American and Australian coins all lumped together. No biggie. In fact I think we have a few Canadian quarters, and some New Zealand coins in there as well. All of this hasn't ever been a huge issue, except I can NEVER get enough pennies.

You see, in Australia we no longer use pennies. Our smallest coin is a 5 cent piece, which is nearly obsolete. No matter how many times I try to convince a parking meter to take the coin it won't, and on the rare occasion that it does it refuses to give me time for it. This causes me great annoyance!

(Aussie 5 cent pieces)

So, today I was trying to demonstrate how 100 cents was equivalent to a dollar. I pulled out all three bags of play and real money I have stashed away for school. This included a new pile of American money (thanks Mom) that we got this week. I put piles all over the kitchen table of 5's, 10's, 20's, 25's, 50's, and then dollar coins.

(Aussie 50 cent, 20 cent, 1 dollar coin)

Then I had the kids start helping me count the piles. First Morgan broke all the pennies down into piles of ten. Which we dutifully counted by tens. Then we counted them by ones, much to his horror!

(American Pennies, don't ask me why some are silver.. that's just how they came!)

Then we stacked up each pile that was counted and placed a bill under it to help them visualize the whole dollar concept. Mind you, in Australia we don't have a paper dollar. We use a 1 and 2 dollar coin. Our smallest paper (which is really plastic) is a 5 dollar note, which for the record is purple, not green.

(All the American money divvied up)

We lined up the American money on one side of the table and we stacked up the Australian money on the other side of the table. Then we counted how many ways there were to make a dollar in each denomination. They were impressed that America had one extra way of doing it, which led us into a discussion on how Australia no longer uses a penny.

(Aussie money broken down, and we threw paper $1 bills under them too)

The boys do really well counting money from either country, despite the differences. There are really only two major differences: Aussie 5 cent pieces are the same size as a Dime. Australia uses a 20 cent piece and America uses 25 cent piece. Other then that they are rather self explanatory to be honest. They all find their way into our shopping game and the kids do well choosing the right ones, which is all that truly matters in the long run.

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