6 Coin Manipulatives For Little Learners

Last Updated on October 12, 2023 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 their 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  who face challenges with money management 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, and making different combinations of coins to arrive at a figure become fun to grasp.

In essence, coin manipulatives along with a well-designed counting money lesson plan can help extract the best advantages of active learning and allow kids to inch close to learning practical utilization of lessons learned in a classroom environment.

Child-friendly manipulatives to teach coins fun way

1. Play money in denominations

Play money in denominations

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 your peers who give you dollars or currency notes. Also, students can make different heaps of 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 into 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 really fast. As a commoner out to buy things of daily utility, you may be required to be 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 of 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. Learning Advantage Play Money Set

Learning Advantage Play Money Set

If you are looking for a coin manipulative set that is not very expensive and provides the best value for your money, make sure you check out this product. With a close resemblance to real money, this set comes with 94 coins, comprising pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half quarters. You also get 100 bills of different denominations, so you won’t have to spend extra dollars on buying them separately.

Use these play coins to teach kids how to manage real money. They can use them to count change and learn how to add and subtract monetary values. It is also perfect for role-playing when kids pretend to go shopping and use coins and bills to make payments.

4. Place Value Discs

Place Value Discs

Take smaller yet firm steps to perfection in money matters with coins-shaped place value manipulation. 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 geniuses 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 a rainy day, which is certainly a tough thing to do with a 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!

6. Hand2mind Fake Money Coin Set

Hand2mind Fake Money Coin Set

This set of manipulatives is another option for parents and teachers who want kids to learn how to work with coins and master the art of money handling. The coins in this set are very similar to real ones, with the same size, color, and details. Hence, kids don’t have a problem switching to and handling real money when the time comes.

On purchasing this set, you get a total of 96 coins of different values. These coins are made of durable plastic and are long-lasting. Kids can use them when playing grocery shopping or pretending to handle a cash register. While doing so, they will practice essential skills like making changes and performing different kinds of monetary calculations.


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 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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