Counting Money Games for First Graders

Teaching Kids About Money

Counting money games come in many shapes and sizes, but they all have this in common: learning with money is one of the most surefire ways to get kids excited about math.

Almost all of these activities will need money for kids to play with, so either start a collection of coins for your child to count, or invest in a set of fake money. (For first grade, you will just need a good supply of coins.)

Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt

Money games don't always require sitting down at a table. Use this game at your next grocery outing to raise your child's awareness of money in her world. Before going to the store, show how we write money as decimals: .25 is the same as 25 cents. Explain how the number $3.25 means three dollars and 25 cents, and practice reading a few more prices.

At the store, do a quick scan of the prices in front of you and say, I spy something that costs (three dollars and 99 cents). Give your child a point for finding it. Do this with lots of different prices to give your child practice reading money. You can also mix it up by saying, I spy something on sale. I spy something that is 2 for 1. I spy something that costs more than $5.00.

Toy Store

Kids love to buy toys, and it hardly matters if they already own them. Toy Store Money Games Invite your child to set up a store, and find 5 or 6 toys to pretend to sell. Put a sticker or a piece of paper on each toy with a price under a dollar. Have your child get a handful of change from the bank, choose a toy, and count out the right change to buy it.

This is a great game for kids to play together, as well. Have kids switch off working in the store or buying toys—but make it clear that this is only pretend, and visiting kids won't be bringing any new toys home afterward!

Make a Dollar

You will need two dice and some coins (either real or fake money). To play, take turns rolling the dice and taking that many pennies from the bank. When a child gets five pennies they trade for a nickel at the bank; trade 2 nickels for a dime, and so on. The first to get to 100 wins.

Grab and Guess

Grab and Guess Money Game

Here is another of the super easy money games. Put a pile of coins in a tub. Players each grab a handful of coins. Without counting the coins, each one guesses whose pile is worth more. Then they each count their coins. Whoever guesses correctly gets a point—NOT the one whose pile is worth more. If both guess correctly, they both get a point. (This game can be made easier or more difficult depending on the types of coins in the tub.)

Simply making lots of coins available (especially real ones!) is motivation enough for many kids to make up their own money games— sorting coins, stacking them, making coin trains, and the like. You can enhance their money games by suggesting fun ways to incorporate counting: How much money is in that train car? How much does that tower cost?

You might also be interested in the related articles Teaching Kids About Money and Play Money.

For more first grade money games, we recommend the Money Bags Game, The Allowance Game, or Miss Brain's Cool Math Games.


Thanks to Jeff_n_TX for the use of the kitty photo.

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“Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself. ”
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