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Math: Learning about money as a life skill and as part of the curriculum

jcb2013's picture

Tuesday 3/19/13:

            During the second half of the day the subject that we focused on was math.  In particular we worked on identifying and understanding money values.  This lesson was interesting to me because it is an example of not only an important part of kindergarten curriculum, but it is also an important life skill.

            The lesson began with Ms. L displayed a chart on the white board labeling the name of the coin, and it’s value on the board.  The students sat in a circle, and were each given replica play money that was similar in size and color to real money.  Ms. L also gave students magnifying glasses so they could observe the details of the coins.

                        I really liked this lesson because of its relevance to everyday life.  This is reflective of skills that children need to have as they get older, both within the classroom, and outside of the classroom.  I also liked the lesson because it was very hands on.  It allowed to the students to examine the money up close, and allowed for them to make draw their own conclusions on questions posed.

            Ms. L posed questions such as, “which coin is the smallest in size?” And,“can you tell me which coin says five cents on it?” “Which coin is called a dime? And what is it worth (what is it’s value)?” 

                        Students used their magnifying glass and replica coins to determine on their own the answers to Ms. L’s questions. It was interesting to see them, as beginning readers, try to read what each coin said, every once in a while getting confused my the latin on the coins.  It was also interesting to see the student’s interpretations of the pictures on the coins.  One student claimed that the flame (such as the one held by lady liberty) on the back of the dime was rocket ship.  This made me wonder how far a lesson on money could be stretched into various subjects (history, etc.). 

            After each coin was reviewed as a class, the students returned to their seats to work on a worksheet where they had to on one side identify the name of a coin by it’s picture, and on the other side identify the value of coins by their pictures. 

                        Most students performed this task well.  I was impressed by their ability to assess many aspects of the coins.  Many students matched the coins that they saw on their worksheet, to the replica coins that they had been given.  From there, they looked over the coin to check whether it said its value or name on it.  For example, dimes say “one dime” on them, so they were able to figure out the name of the dime by looking at it, but they had to assess on their own through discussion/memory what its value was.  For a nickel, it says “five cents” on it. So the students could figure out the value by looking at it, but not the name.  This activity in itself, because of the inconsistency of the details that the coins themselves supplied required students to think on a deeper level about the values that each coin represent. 

            Because some students struggled with the assignment, I went around and helped them by asking questions to prompt/trigger a reflection on what was learned during circle time.  When a student couldn’t remember what the name of a certain coin was, I would work with the student to find the corresponding replica coin.  We would then examine the coin to see if it told its name or value.  Once we established either a name or a value we then referred to our discussion to review what had been discussed. Most of the students could identify at least one coin, so using this system we narrowed down what coin we were working with.

                        Another positive of the lesson was that most students seemed to enjoy the activity, especially being able to examine the replica money.  Most showed a signs of excitement when they were able to identify the names and values of the coins.  It was an exciting moment to see as a student teacher because I was able to witness a productive and meaningful lesson that really engaged that students.


On Tuesday afternoon AJ came to visit my field placement.  It was very nice to have her in the class as she was able to reflect on my class as someone who is new to the environment.  We discussed how important pre-k classes are in preparing students for kindergarten.  As she put it, she felt concerned for her pre-k students after observing the types of things that the students were working on at my praxis.  We both felt (I had previously visited her site) that her site should create more structure in their school day, including increasing the amount of time spent on academic subjects (both basic skills and critical thinking).