Hello all, We have been studying money for the past two weeks. The first week, we studied pennies, their value, how many pennies are in a dollar, and how to count them. My students did great, and were actually bored with the pennies. Last week, we added nickels to the mix. Throughout the week, they did great. We began by skip counting to 100 by 5's. No problem, they had been doing that since Kindergarten. We talked about the relationship between a penny and a nickel, a penny and a dollar, and a nickel and a dollar. no problem. We "bought" things with mixes of pennies and nickels in different amounts. They counted X nickels and X pennies to discover a total. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly. Then came Friday (test day). Their test consisted of 15 "problems". (I'm not sure what else to call them.) Each problem listed an amount (ex: 7 cents - using the cent sign). They were given the word nickels with a blank following it, and the word pennies with a blank as well. Further, they were given the total number of coins to be used in parenthesis. I even wrote "nickel = 5 cents" and "penny = 1 cent" on the board. Interestingly, several of my "middle" students were doing great on this test. They flew through it with few if any problems. It was not the same for my "high achieving" students. They just sat there looking at the paper. I called them over individually and coached them on the worth of each coin, and showed them the number of coins needed, to no avail. I gave them "plastic" coins so they could visually work it out. No good. I all but gave them the answers! It was so bad, that I took all of the tests and threw them in the trash can, and told the kids not to worry about it. I have to add dimes to the mix this week. Help!!! I have never taught first grade before (I am a LTS for a teacher on maternity leave). Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Have you ever thought to maybe just ask them to show you 7 cents in their own way by drawing the coins?? Or draw the coins for them and then have them tell you the amount. I think the format of the questioning may be a little difficult. I teach 2nd and my kids are still struggling with counting coins. But we do daily practice and I word the problems in that way.

I agree with Youngteacher226. I use Everyday math and this program has students "draw coins" the represent coin amounts. It's hard to show on here but a penny would be drawn by drawing a circle and putting a P in it. A nickel is a circle with an N in it, and so on... I think telling the number of nickels and number of pennies to show the amount is a step a lot of first graders aren't going to be ready for at first. In everyday math we also talk alot about using "fewest coins" (this forces kids to use the largest coins instead of using all pennies).

Thanks, y'all. I appreciate the insight. As an alternative certification student (now complete), I did not receive insights such as this.

Good point about the "fewest coins". We do that as well or else to make 50 cents, the kids will draw 50 pennies or something like that. When you show them that 5 dimes makes 50 cents. Or better than that, 2 quarters, or even better than that, 1 half dollar....they're like, "Ohhhh!" It's so funny, but they get it.

My district recommends teaching money by giving each coin a certain amount of legs - short vertical lines that are drawn on the bottom of each coin. Each leg represents 5 cents. Quarters are given five legs, Dimes get 2 legs, Nickels get 1 leg, and Pennies don't have any legs. When the children are given a picture of a group of coins, they begin by giving each coin the appropriate number of legs. After they all have their legs, students begin counting the legs by fives, giving each leg a foot (short horizontal line at the bottom of the leg) when counting. I'm not sure if the written text is making much sense but the method really does work. Their greatest challenge is correctly identifying the coin (i.e. not mistaking a quarter for a nickel). Our money unit is unusually short but the kids picked it up very easily using this method. It only takes them one or two lessons to remember how many legs each coin gets. Let me know if you are confused by this and I'll do my best to clarify.

This is Touch Money expect instead of touch points your district is using the term legs. I am surprised that teachers in your district aren't in an uproar because it (touch points) is seen as 'special ed.'. I teach my students touch points when adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and when working with money -- less headaches and my students experience success.

I get the concept, but how does this help the kids when they will probably start depending on the touch points in the future? I can see using this for some of my strugglers, but how do you wing them off the touch points??? And how do you teach the touch points for adding and subtracting???

I also use touch math for my regular ed students and I find it amazing that some teachers get upset about using a special ed strategy for regular ed students. Fact of the matter is that most special ed strategies would be very useful in regular ed classrooms...why? BECAUSE THEY ARE GOOD TEACHING! Just because it is more commonly used in a special ed setting doe not mean that other students might not benefit from it. As for the question about giving them a crutch...it is giving them a visual and concrete connection to an abstract symbol. In my experience as students become proficient with the concept the use of the strategy filters out. Some students are not able to develop strategies such as touch points on their own, so that when it is a good idea for a teacher to have a strategy that they can scaffold into the instruction.

I think this method is an effective way to teach money to first graders. They are so young and it really is a good introductory method. Every teacher I have talked to in the district fullly supports the strategy. It's effective... that's the bottom line. We shouldn't reserve an effective method of teaching material for special ed classes only. We should all take advantage of something that works.

I want to attend a workshop on touchmath. I know another teacher who uses it (she is a sped teacher -- who'd a' thunk it?), and when she teaches it to any of the kids - be they reg or sped - they love it. I need to be proficient with it in order to teach it to my kids, and sometimes it takes this old dog a while to learn new tricks, but at least I'm trying!

While there are many advantages to touch math, there are also disadvantages. If the child is able to do the math mentally, without the touch step, then using touch math slows them down and actually impedes learning mental math. It can cause visual learners confusion. It is not the most effective method for auditory learners, either (though it will work with some.) Touch math is wonderful for many kinesthetic learners. It is helpful for students who are LD, and with some types of dyslexia. The touch points are confusing to students with other types of dyslexia. My point is that different methods are appropriate for different learning styles and different students -- just as with anything. I use both -- but touch math is not a be-all end-all method. It is great to have it as one tool in your teaching tool box, but there are so many other ways to help students with coin identification and valuation.

PW, I think your students may actually understand the content you are trying to teach. I think the assessment you used was probably not the best way to assess their knowledge. (We've ALL been there!) Try giving them copies of pennies and nickels, and have them cut out and glue down the correct number of pennies and nickels for some amounts -- like 7 cents. Tell them they must use the fewest number of coins, so you don't get all pennies for every answer -- or just put a star next to the ones they must use BOTH nickels and pennies on -- if you haven't taught "fewest coins" yet. Of course, ideally, you would have each student with real pennies and nickels, and you would give them an amount and watch them count it out -- but in a real classroom one rarely has time for this type of assessment. The cut and paste exercise will let you know if they know the material. I wouldn't be quick to jump to the conclusion that you need to reteach the material. I would try a different way of assessing first. If you need graphics of coins, pm me with your email. I'm sure I have some on my computer.

Thanks, RainStorm, I really appreciate the advice. We started over this week, actually yesterday (we had an assembly Monday). We reviewed everything we knew individually about pennies and nickels, and when the class seemed comfortable, I gently eased into combining the two. I drew coins on the board. I showed them several ways to depict the same amount (i.e, one nickel and five pennies, or seven pennies - all circles with the amount written in the middle). Today, I added dimes to the mix. We talked about the physical aspects of a dime, and compared it to a nickel and to a penny. I took a real dime around the class, and let every student feel the ridges on the edge. We talked about how even a blind person can tell the difference between the coins. They had a little trouble with this concept, so I said "we're going to do a little experiment." I randomly chose three students. I held a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter in my hand, where they could not see them. Each student had to reach into my hand and choose the dime, based only upon feeling the coins. The two girls I chose grabbed the wrong coins, but the boy took his time, closed his eyes and concentrated, and got it on the first try! My kids were very impressed! I liked it because it got them thinking out of the box. We talked about the value of a dime, how many pennies make a dime, how many nickels, etc. I drew several coin combinations on the board and had the students figure out the amounts. Then, I gave them all a blank piece of paper, and told them to draw AT LEAST three ways that you can make 16 cents using pennies, nickels, and / or dimes. Then, I told them, "there are really five ways to do it, but I only want you to do those if you think you can." Well, that was like sending piranhas to a roast in the Amazon River! All but two of my students had all five ways drawn out within five minutes! Then, I had students tell me the coin combinations, one at a time, and I drew them on the board. Once the combination was drawn, I asked the class, "is that correct?" There was not a bored kid or incorrect answer in the classroom! And I hate math! I'm sorry to be so excited. I've really been questioning whether I am doing these children any good -- until today! This single little lesson (and a real pat on the back on another matter) just made my day!

Congrats! It sounds like you presented a fantastic lesson and the kids were actively engaged. I like the experiment with the dime... I'll have to try that one!

Teaching first graders has taught me a lot! I have taught/trained adults, a mixed age Girl Scout troop of 35 6 to 11 year olds, and even student taught 3rd grade last semester. However, first grade has been a revelation. My patience is tested every day. In my head, I want to simply start talking and teaching directly. I am learning that the little ones need things a lot simpler. When I relax and just play with it is when they seem to learn the most. Who knows, maybe this old dawg can learn a new trick or two!

I loved learning from your learning experience! Thank you! I cut and pasted your lesson in to my money folder - I would love use it next year. I hope you don't mind!!

That's one thing I LOVE about Saxon Math. It introduces the coins so gradually that the money part comes so easy to them.

Oh, wow! Thanks! No, I don't mind at all (how could I refuse when I've gained so much from y'all?). Now you've got me blushing!

I loved all the ideas of how to teach coins. One thing I have done is have the children create catalogue pages where everything is labeled as 25cents or less, I then have them use pennies, dimes, and nickles to "buy" things from there catalogues.