6 things to keep in mind when teaching students about money


I’m sure a lot of educators can relate to me when I say that it is difficult to teach children about the concept of money. On sitting down to think about WHY this is the case, I realised that there are quite a few things that just wouldn’t seem logical or immediately make sense to students. And I think it is important to keep these issues in mind to help overcome some of the challenges when teaching this tricky concept.

*Please note that the issues I cover below are described in terms of Australian money, however many of these issues would also be relevant to other currencies.

  • Coins and notes are an endangered species. So many items are paid for using ATM cards or through some sort of online transfer system so kids aren’t seeing coins and notes in their everyday lives. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my students think they can buy something just by waving an object in the air!
  • Size doesn’t matter. A 50 cent coin is worth less than a $2 coin, but is larger in size. This is confusing for little ones as they tend to think “the bigger, the better!”
  • More coins doesn’t necessarily mean more money. I remember heading to a lolly store when I was a little one with so many coins I could hardly hold them. I was with my elder sister who ONLY had one coin. Hehehe I thought as I was dreaming of all of the lollies I would gobble down in front of her… only to find out that she had 2 whole dollars to spend and I only had 70 cents worth of 5 cent coins. Waaaaaaa! That was the day I learnt that gold matters!
  • A Lyre what? One of the key ways to distinguish coins from one another is by looking at the images imprinted on them. I remember trying to explain to my students that a 10 cent coin had a Lyre bird on it and they were very confused. They didn’t think a bird could talk, let alone lie.
  • Numbers on coins just don’t add up. Ever added coins with a 10, 2 and a 1 on them and gotten 13 cents instead of 3 dollars and 10 cents? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We need to remind our students that the gold coins and notes are worth dollars and the silver coins are worth cents. Thank goodness the bronze coins are no longer around.
  • One and two cent coins keep rising from the dead. Even though 1 and 2 cent coins haven’t been around for ages there are still many items priced at, say, $4.99 or $12.99. How on earth do you expect my students to find notes and coins to pay for these items? It’s really five dollars I hear you say… well why doesn’t the tag just say five dollars? Surely this advertising trick is outdated by now!

I have made quite a few money-related teaching resources that try to get kids to think about and tackle many of these issues.

Please find the links to these resource below (NB. the Australian version of these task cards has been my best selling resource to date):

Australian Money task cards higher order thinking grades 3 and 4.

UK money task cards higher order thinking grades 3, 4 and 5.

US money task cards higher order thinking grades 3 and 4.

Credit to Hidesy’s Clipart for the graphic.


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