5 Coin Manipulatives For Little Learners

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Last Updated on April 1, 2022 by Editorial Team

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It is a sight to watch when kids feel drawn to making payments on their own. They imitate elders and enquire about the pending bill amount, take the money slowly from the pocket and pay with a lot of pride on their faces. But, how to bring a child to that level of self-satisfaction while dealing with money? Some developmentally appropriate activity-based methods like pretend play result in exceptional academic and cognitive outcomes, researchers suggest. We have done a post about money manipulatives which are quite effective in teaching kids various things about money and budgeting.

In this post, we intend to focus on coin manipulatives and how to familiarize kids with coins using these learning tools.

Manipulatives: Easing challenges of teaching about coins to kids

Lack of effective instruction material frustrates both teachers and children or adults with severe LDs as they don’t learn about money the way they should. The pain of memorizing the value being the only option adds to the difficulties of learning disabled individuals[1]. It is where the coin manipulatives step in and provide learning tools fitter enough to accommodate children at varying levels of learning paces.

Coins manipulatives can teach basic activities like counting and adding smaller denominations to make a dollar. Real money can be risky to deal with; manipulatives replace risk with safety and still keep the actual essence of the transactional tools intact. Though concrete objects may both promote and hinder learning progress[2], it depends entirely on the approach to keep learners on track of effective learning.

Pretend play money offers an introduction to the real-life use of coins in making transactions; hence it emphasizes learning to live independently with confidence[3]. How to make a fair change, and not feel overwhelmed or confused stems from early introduction with money. With pretend play money, several functions like skipping coins, making different combinations of coins to arrive at a figure become fun to grasp.

In essence, coins manipulatives help extract the best advantages of active learning and allow kids to inch close to learn practical utilization of lessons learned in a classroom environment.

Child-friendly manipulatives to teach coins fun way

1. Play money in denominations

Learning Resources Pretend Play Money - 150 Pieces, Ages 3+ Play Money for Kids, Pretend Money for Kids, Play Money Set, Money and Banking Play Toys, Toddler Learning Toys

To make faster payments, it is always advisable to have coins of different denominations in your wallet. But, the resource alone is not enough. You need the expertise to utilize the resource too, right? This manipulative can provide ample training beforehand to count money and make various combinations of dimes, quarters, nickels, etc. The learners can master the process of combining different denominations of smaller value and vice versa, to become fluent with transactions based on coins.

A variety of activities are possible to do with coins of different denominations. You can have a pretend play session where you are handing over change to the peers who give you dollars or currency notes. Also, students can make different heaps of the coins as per the cue provided in the problem assigned to them. For example, how many nickels will make a dime or will be broken to pennies, is a skill worth developing while dealing in transactions with coins.

2. Counting chips set

counting chips set

A simple act of counting can help you become coin intelligent real fast. As a commoner out to buy things of daily utility, you may require being an expert in counting coins of small denominations. This manipulative replaces the denominations with colors. The color-coded chips do the job of enticing kids to do activities with enthusiasm. They may learn to associate colors with corresponding denominations and play life-skill games.

Quite appropriate for independent learning as well as for a guided tour to the concept of coins, this manipulative alleviates the stress that surrounds memorizing denominations. Not lost in translation to denominations, the kids get into the core activity of counting, adding, subtracting, dividing, and much more and develop a sense of ease with money later on.

3. Coin Value game

Coin Value game

Gamified procedures always make learning better in the delivery of outcomes. The game offers a challenge to beat, several hurdles to overcome, and new revelations enroute to the goal drive learners to apply knowledge in myriad ways. This board game also offers an engaging manipulative to kids who collect coins, give them to the opponent or calculate the change to reach the final point.

Dice replaces the spinner and the coins and currency bills serve the functionality of chips used in board games. With all gamified elements in place, the kids master how to handle money but with leaving learning worries aside. Easier steps propel kids’ confidence in a positive direction and build it to the hilt. You may find your kid telling you the payable change before you when in a shop – a happy outcome to expect from this gamified manipulative!

4. Place Value Discs

Place value discs

Take smaller yet firm steps to perfection in money matters with coins-shaped place value manipulative. When dealing with bigger values like hundreds and thousands, the concretization of values helps understand the value of a product. Thus, the concepts like cheaper and pricier products become easier to learn with place-value chips. Ask kids to show the values in four digits with the help of these chips in various combinations. It teases brains to think in several ways and become calculation genius eventually.

The main reason this manipulative has made it to our list is the ease and practicality with which it offers the firsthand introduction of coins to little learners at an early stage.

5. Digital Counting Piggy Bank

Digital counting piggy bank

A touch of sophistication is added to this concretized presentation of money kids are likely to encounter in adult life. Even as an adult who needs support to keep track of expenses and savings, you can benefit from this coin manipulative set. It is important to learn to save for the rainy day, which is certainly a tough thing to do with low knowledge of money management. Hence, a ready reckoner certainly can help!

This manipulative set comes with a jar having a digital counter. Each time a coin goes inside, the counter shows an increase and vice versa. Hence, you get additional support to work around counting difficulties. You may use this manipulative to show how money grows with the habit of saving; it is an essential life skill that may help kids till late in life. Coin-value identification and counting are additional skills learned; the counter offers immediate checking support too!


Coins and currency bills never go out of use. Though paperless ways of making payments are catching up with the masses, the need to learn coins cannot be undermined. After all, who is born with a debit card in the hand, right? Hence, use manipulatives to teach the coins to kids in an easily relatable manner, and demonstrate through role-plays how to practically apply the learning too. The manipulatives mentioned above can help in the feat by providing relatable teaching support and also for self-practice.


  1. Tracey & Fanelli, Teaching Money: Are we shortchanging our kids?, Research Report, 2000
  2. Should you show me the money? , McNeil et al, Learning and Instruction 19(2009),p. 171-184
  3. The Importance of Pretend Play in Child Development: An Occupational Therapy Perspective, Stagnitti & Unsworth, The British Journal of Occupational Therapy,2000

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