Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Money

Carter came home from school excited about some poems he had been learning about coins. They were the same poems I used to use to help my students learn about coins in my class. For a while he's been interested in coins and learning their names. I decided to put together a learning theme on money. It was so much fun and Elise loved playing with money too.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have revised our objectives to really hone in and focus on specific skills Carter will need to master before kindergarten and are appropriate to his age and development right now. I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually. I have added working on his name as his teachers at school have asked us to work on it at home and I want to remember to include working on it in some form during each of our learning themes. I'm also adding in a section for Elise now that she is a year old. I don't considers her bullet points objectives, they are experiences I want to make sure to expose her to frequently. Her experiences are listed below Carter as bullet points rather than numbers.

The highlighted objectives below are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:

Writing Skills:

  • holds a pencil with 2 fingers and a thumb grasp.
  • draws a circle, plus sign, and square.
  • uses scissors to cut a 4 inch line. 
  • uses pictures to write a story.
  • writes name.
Reading Skills:
  • blends sounds to say word.
  • chunks words into syllables.
  • hears and identifies rhyming words.
  • recognizes and names uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • isolates and identifies beginning and ending sounds in spoken words.
 Math Skills:
  • counts to 20.
  • counts with one to one correspondence.
  • represents a number of objects with a written numeral (0-10).
  • compares objects in sets with more, less, or equal to.
  • creates and extends patterns.
  • identifies shapes and describes attributes. 
  • understands that addition means adding to.
  • understands that subtraction means taking from.                   
 Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  1. Continue to improve fine motor skills and drawing (specifically I'm looking for her to be able to copy a circle and a square as well as eventually draw a person with 2-4 body parts).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors. 
  5. Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
  6. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature such as size, color, hard, soft).
  7. Count and understand what the numbers mean.
  • I wrote the word money on a sentence strip. I asked Carter to tell me what the beginning sound of the word was. Then I had him name all the letters in the word. Then I chunked the word into mon/ey and asked Carter to blend them together to make a word.
  • We poured all the coins out of Carter and Elise's piggy banks. I also pooled together all of the coins I found in our cars. I put them in a pile and asked Carter to sort them. He wanted to sort them based on the kind of coin so he sorted into piles of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. As he was sorting we repeated the poems to help him identify each coin. I asked him which pile had the most coins and which had the fewest. Then he counted the coins in each pile.
  • I found some fake money online here. The kids got some practice with scissors by cutting out the pretend money. Carter was able to cut out all the bills on the dotted lines. He tried cutting out a few of the coins and decided he was done. Elise cut the bills out but wasn't quite able to cut on the dotted line. She does a great job with scissors though and I'm still impressed she hasn't tried to cut anything but paper when working with scissors!
  • I put together a little bit of a sensory bin using coins and a piggy bank. When Carter played with the coins and piggy banks I gave him a number card and he counted out and put that number of coins into the piggy bank. When Elise played she practiced putting coins into the slot. Then Carter wanted to switch jobs. He gave me number cards so I could put coins in the piggy bank. When he gave me large numbers I showed him how I could make that number of cents by using the coins' value. He wasn't too thrilled about that but I wanted to show him a different way of playing the game and model for him how to count coins even though that is well beyond his ability level at this point.
  • I found this cute emergent reader here. I read it with Carter and then he matched the coins to the book pages. As he looked through the coins to find the appropriate ones for each page we reviewed our coin poems to help him find the coin he was looking for. A version of the coin poems we used can be found here.
  • We played some more with the coins by making patterns using the coins. We made some patterns based on color and then on size of the coin. Carter made patterns for me to continue and then I made patterns for him to extend.
  • Carter and I played a penny flip game. I showed him how to flip the penny on his finger. I also showed him how to spin a coin by turning it on its side and then spinning it on the table. We then sorted the pennies based on how they landed, either the head or tail side of the coin. When we were finished I had Carter tell me which side we had landed on the most and which we had landed on the least. Then I had him tell me how many more we had in one pile over the other. We also counted to see how many pennies were in each pile. Carter enjoyed it so much we did it 3 times and he thought it was neat that we got heads the most once, tails the most once, and then tied once.
  • I got out a magnifying glass to look at the coins. I had Carter describe them and we talked about how they were the same and how they were different. Carter noticed all the coins had a person's head on one side. I showed the coins to Elise and we talked about how a penny was a different color from the other coins. Then we talked about how the other coins were all the same because they were the same color. Carter and I made a chart to list out the different characteristics of each of the coins.
  • I had Carter put the coins in order based on size. He decided to order them from biggest to smallest which I thought was interesting. Then we looked at how thick they were and compared the thickness of the coins.
  • When we were looking at coins and comparing them, Carter noticed that quarters had different pictures on the tail side. I told him there was a different quarter for each state. I went through the garage and found my book of state quarters my mom made for me when the state quarters came out. We looked at the coins and compared the pictures. Carter picked out states he knew and asked me to explain why the pictures were on the coin. After seeing the Kansas quarter he asked if he could see bison next time we visit Oma and Opa or Gma and Gpa. It was so cute!
  • I did coin rubbings with my students a couple times and remembered it working decently well. I tried it with Carter and it didn't work very well at all. It may have been that our coins were so well used and rubbed down. We used the coin rubbing pages to make a coin rhyming book.
  • We played with coins in Play Doh, making impressions of the coins. Carter also liked hiding the coins inside the Play Doh so I could dig the coin out and discover which coin he hid.
  • Carter and I played a roll and stack game with coins. I used a die I have with dry erase sides and wrote P, N, D, and Q on the side. I added P on there a couple more times because we had more pennies than the other coins. We'd roll the die and then use the letter on the die to figure out which coin we needed to get. Once we got the correct coin, we put it down by us and created a tower by stacking the coins as we collected them. Carter did an awesome job of identifying which coin to get based on the beginning letter of the coin's name. A few times he needed help determining which coin was a nickel, dime, or quarter. Penny is easy for him and he can find it on his own every time.
  • I put together a sensory bin with hidden coins. I used beans as the base and then hid our coins in the beans. I put out mats with each coin on them so when Carter found a coin, he sorted it onto the appropriate mat. I also added in some large coin pictures I used in my classroom and we matched the coin to the value of the coin.
  • We used the coin rubbings Carter made as illustrations in a coin rhymes book. I had Carter come up with words that rhyme with each coin name and I wrote them down. he came up with some real words and some pretend words. He does a really good job coming up with rhyming words but every once in a while surprises me by suggesting some off the wall word that isn't even close to rhyming which cracks me up!
  • I wrote out the kids' names on a piece of paper and then had them use coins to cover their names. I helped Elise start hers and I also made sure to tell her the letters and then read her her name. Carter did his all by himself.
  • Since our coin rubbings didn't turn out very well, I had Carter match paper money to the pages and glue them down. When I printed the money pages for the kids to cut out dollar bills, the pages also had paper coins. I cut them out and Carter matched the front and back of the coins to the correct page.
  • We practiced with some reading skills by using the coin names. I had Carter identify the beginning letter of each coin name different times and incorporated that into our roll and stack game. I also chunked the coin names into segments and asked him to blend the sounds to make a word. We also talked about what money is for and how we use money.
  • I printed some fake money for the kids to color and decorate. I tried to find it again to link it here and I couldn't figure out where I found it. Once Carter was finished coloring his pretend money he cut it out and put it with our cash register. He drew the Pigeon where the head of the presidents goes on our dollar bills. I thought that was cute!
  • I also had Carter draw a circle like our coins and a rectangle like our bills. I had him look at the shapes and describe their attributes. We counted how many sides and corners a rectangle has and compared it to a square. We also counted how many straight sides and corners a circle has. Carter loved that it was zero.
Special Snack:
  • I gave Carter and Elise each 5 pennies to buy a snack one afternoon. I explained that they could buy more than one snack if they chose snacks that were worth fewer coins. Carter wanted fruit snacks so he spent all 5 pennies on that. Elise surprised me by choosing a stick cheese and an orange so she could have more than one snack. They each counted out their coins to decide if they had enough and then paid me for their snacks.
Make Believe:
  • We had a lot of fun playing cash register during this theme. Carter has a cash register we got at a garage sale a long time ago and then we found a cash register really cheap at a Toys R Us outlet in Branson right when we were starting this theme so we had a cash register for each kid to play with. Carter loved putting the money in the cash register and counting out coins.
  • We used the coin poems I had from my classroom and that Carter was learning in his class. We also listened to some coin songs on Youtube. The kids' favorite was The Money Song by Jack Hartman. Elise was so cute walking around singing, "Money, money, money in my pocket," for weeks after we listened to it!
  • I downloaded an app on my phone called Amazing Coin. Carter liked dragging the letters down to spell the coin's name when it showed a coin. He had to identify the coin by looking at the picture and I helped him sound out the coin name to determine what order the letters on the screen went. He also liked looking at the patterns they made with the coins and determining what the pattern was so he could extend the pattern with which coin came next. When it moved on to counting coins by their value to create different amounts of cents, Carter wanted me to do it and show him how it worked so I did. Counting coins isn't developmentally appropriate for him right now but he liked watching me do it and understanding why coins have different values.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • The kids took coins out of their piggy banks with us to the aquarium so they could buy a gummy candy with their coins. Carter was proud to put his coins on the counter to pay for his candy. He was really excited that he got money back and I explained to him that when you give them more money than what the item costs, they give you money back and that's called your change. He and Elise both wanted to take their coins to the coin collector that takes donations and drop them down in to watch them spin as they went down. It was cute to watch them have fun with that.
  • Spot Goes Shopping by Eric Hill
  • The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money by Stan Berenstain
  • The Coin Counting Book by Rozanne Lanczak Williams
  • Albert Helps Out: Counting Money by Eleanor May
  • Money by Sara Pistoia
  • Sheep in a Shop by Nancy Shaw
  • 26 Letters and 99 Cents by Tana Hoban
  • Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
  • Follow the Money by Loreen Leedy
  • Making Cents by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson
  • Money Madness by David A. Adler
  • Curious George Saves His Pennies by H.A. Rey
  • Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
  • Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells
  • If You Made a Million by David M. Schwartz
  • A Dollar for a Penny by Julie Glass
  • Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
  • Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins
  • Benny's Pennies by Pat Brisson
  • Carl Goes Shopping by Alexandra Day


  1. Very cute theme. I remember learning the value of different coins with my dad.

    1. We really enjoyed it. What an awesome memory, grandpa was the best!