We're still working with money here, and while sitting at the table the other day I was struck with a fantastic idea for a math game. I retired to the school room with my trusty scrapping program and whipped up the game in no time flat. The boys and I then played it for school and had a blast. I like just how quickly they saw the importance of skip counting, how they were able to count coins quickly, and how simplistic the game is. The idea was that I wanted them to learn to count coins, and I needed a reason why. So, I made up varying slips of paper with the values ranging from .05 - .95. We were working with 5's and no 1's. You see, while I will have them work on the "nitty gritty" eventually, right now I'm not focusing in on the 1's. That probably sounds weird, but here in Australia we have no one cent coins. We must round up or down. So for now, I want the boys to focus in on the whole numbers, and as they become accustomed to it we'll work on rounding.
We took our value cards and I explained to the boys that we were going to pretend to be shop keepers. Everyone who came into our store paid with a $1 coin. I told them our job was to figure out how much change we had to give back to them. Each time they get it right they keep the money in their bowl/plate/box. If we were playing for winners the one with the most would win (we don't often focus on that though). I also pulled out a calculator and showed them how we enter money values in by using the decimal point. I figure for now using the calculator is fine, as they get more confidence we'll remove the calculator. Besides, a little calculator work is good practice too!
Once they used the calculator to find the answers, they sorted through our big pile of change on the table (mostly toy money) until they came up with the value they needed. I'll be honest and say that it was slower at first. While they knew the coins and they understood what they were, they didn't completely get how to count them. They were willing to grab up the 5's and the 10's to get what they needed, so I had to encourage them to branch out and use the 50's and the 20's. I explained that if they were going to take 2 10 cent pieces why not take 1 20 cent coin instead. Repetition and patience pays off here.
Both boys felt quite cool getting to use the calculator. Ignore the fact that Jayden looks devastated here. He was concentrating very hard so that he could do it completely by himself without me saying anything. He had the habit of forgetting to push the decimal point, or confusing the 5 and 2. However, he did very well when he concentrated on what he was doing, and I was impressed by how quickly he was able to count the bigger coins out for himself without prodding.
We actually played this game quite a bit last week, and will continue to play it as we focus on money. As they become more confident I'll add higher valued cards into the mix and work at giving change from $3 or $5, etc. In the mean time they are doing really well with it. It's always twice as rewarding when the game you make is one they love.