M is for Money

For the letter M, we talked about money. I introduced my children to the names of different coins, as well as their respective coin values (though I don't expect them to remember the coin values at their ages). We learned about the history of money and looked at pictures of money around the world. I also tried to focus on the value of saving money up for a worthwhile goal or cause.

Learning the Letter
We learned the shape and sound of the letter M through our usual tracing and sound-hunt activities. I had my four-year-old practice writing "mom" and it was so heartwarming to see "mom" in those cute wobbly letters. I am also spending some time doing whole alphabet review activities with my kids because even though we are officially only halfway through the alphabet, they know most of their letter sounds by now. One thing I did to review was practice matching upper and lower-case letters. You can easily make your own letter matching game. Because my kids love trains, I made them a train-themed letter-matching game. I just printed out small pictures of train cars and wrote capital letters on some and lower-case letters on others. Then I had the kids match up the appropriate letters.

The Books We Read
As always, our favorite part of "preschool" is reading lots and lots of books! We checked out quite a few books on money from the library. Here are a few of our favorites.

Making Cents  by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson
This book taught about coin and dollar values while simultaneously telling a story of children building a clubhouse.

If You Made a Million by David M. Schwartz
Fun illustrations and silly side stories make this book a great introduction to the value of money.

The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money  by Stan and Jan Berenstain
My kids really enjoy the Berenstain Bears books. This story told of brother and sister bear and their attempts to mend their "spendthrift" ways.

In this book, the Cat in the Hat gives a history of money. The simple rhyming text and fun illustrations kept my kids interested, and we all learned a few new things about the history of money.

A quick, easy book that tells how Little Critter saves his money for a new toy.

Math Activities
The topic of money naturally lends itself to math activities. We practiced counting coins and I taught my children the names and values of the coins. We also made these money books. The boys love it when we make our own "books." They read their money books over and over again.

A great science demonstration to go with money is found here. You can "clean" pennies in a solution of 1/4 c. vinegar and 1 t. salt. We didn't have any regular vinegar--just cider vinegar, so my kids were extra impressed that putting the pennies into the icky looking yellow vinegar made them shiny and clean. I told them that the vinegar and the salt worked together to clean the pennies by removing something called "copper oxide." Then, we put nails into the solution and we saw how the copper oxide attached to the nails and made them turn a copper color. Though my kids don't really understand all of the chemistry behind this demonstration they still enjoyed seeing the before and after of the pennies and nails.

It was fun to learn about the history of money as we read our books. We also loved watching the "How It's Made: Coins" video from Discovery Channel. (We have a Netflix streaming subscription which includes this episode of How It's Made--S1: Ep 25--or you can see the video on YouTube).

For our craft, we arranged coins in the shape of a letter M and then did a coin rubbing activity, inspired by this post. I started by making the shape of a letter M with glue. Then I had the kids choose coins to put on the M. Next, we put a sheet of white paper over our letter M's that we had made of coins and we used crayons to rub the design onto the new sheet of paper. After the kids rubbed the coins I cut out the letter M's and mounted them on to green paper to make them stand out more.

I have been collecting one craft from each of our units to put in page protector inside an alphabet binder for each child. For some units, when our crafts didn't really fit into the binder, I just printed out pictures of our activities to put into the binder. The boys enjoy looking through these books to review what they have learned, and I love having these memories preserved.

Pretend Play

My kids used a set of pretend money to play "grocery store." They took turns being the checker and the customer. I love watching them play. My 2 1/2 year old is really learning to use his imagination a lot more, and my 4 year old has always loved pretend play (He is usually dressed up in one costume or another--I think it is rare to see him in "regular" clothes.) We got our pretend money at our local dollar store, though you can also print out some on this website. I helped my kids set up the store to start, but after that, it was up to them to keep playing the game, and it kept them entertained for quite a while.

We had lots of round, circular crackers and cookies to represent "coins" for our snack time. You could also get chocolate gold coins if you want something as a special reward.

Games and Songs
We loved playing this piggybank coin recognition game

In addition, we did a weight-matching game. I made three matching sets of coins in these amounts: 5 pennies, 10 pennies, and 25 pennies. Then I had my kids take turns closing their eyes while I placed a roll of coins in each hand and asked them to tell me if the rolls of coins weighed the same or different. If they told me that they were different, I asked them which was heavier and which was lighter. We took turns playing this several times, and then we took those same rolls of coins and lined them up from shortest to tallest.

We also recited this poem about money. It was included in our money book that we made. I've also seen it in several other places on the web, and it is a cute way to remember the values of the various coins:

Penny, penny
Easily spent
Copper brown and
worth one cent.

Nickel, nickel,
Thick and fat,
You're worth five cents.
I know that.

Dime, dime,
Little and thin,
I remember,
You're worth ten.

Quarter, quarter
Big and bold,
You're worth twenty-five
I am told!

We had fun singing some other nursery rhymes/songs that feature money, such as "See Saw Margery Daw":

See Saw Margery Daw,
Johnny shall have a new master;
He shall earn but a penny a day,
Because he can't work any faster.

Once again, it was a busy, fun week. Hopefully my little ones can appreciate the value of money a little more now J For more of my "M is for Money" ideas, see my board on Pinterest.

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