Friday, March 4, 2011

Math with coins

Obviously, if you are teaching kids to count money and make change you can use real money or the plastic coins that are readily available. Just like so many other activities that can be done on the computer, there are 'real-world' equivalents that are just as good or better.  However, having a digital version can provide a convenient way of motivating kids to do extra practice. For parents, some of these activities can provide a convenient way of practicing working with coins or practicing math skills while waiting at the doctor's or for an older sibling to get done at sports practice.

Crazy Coins (free)
For each of the 28 levels (0 - 27), you have 60 seconds to try to answer as many questions as you can. For each question, you are given an amount in cents and you're to figure out how many of each coin you need to form that amount. The principle is good - but a huge disadvantage to this piece of software is that it does not show the coins. It is not as intuitive as Coins Genius (listed below). It is a free download, but the other software listed in this post are far more useful.

Sticker Shop (Free)
Kids choose a sticker to 'buy' and then have to flick/drag the appropriate coins to the counter to 'pay' for it. The coin pictures are clear and appropriately proportioned, but only show the heads of the coins. If a student checks out without paying the correct amount, they have to start all over again with a new sticker rather than simply correcting the amount of money they've put on the counter. Not bad for free software.

Coins Genius ($0.99)
This is a 60 second game in which randomly chosen coin combinations (5, 6, or 7 coins) are displayed. The child must add up the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters quickly and accurately and select the correct amount. Points are given for each correct answer and penalties are given for incorrect answers. The Top 5 highest scores go on a Leader Board to help track progress and motivate.

Coin Math  ($1.99) is designed for both iPhone and iPad. It covers the following skills

- Learn what a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar and dollar coins looks like, front and back.
- Learn about U.S. State Quarters.
- Learn how to match coins.
- Learn how to add coins.
- Learn how to add different coins.
- Learn how to pay for items.
- Learn how to make change.
The counting, shopping, and making change activities can be completed at two different levels.  Some activities require the user to be able to read, others do not. Occasionally the activities are not realistic - in the simple make change activity for example, the student might be asked to make change for a $1 item assuming the customer paid $2.

Jungle Coins (iPad only, $2.99)
Sadly, as well as being the most expensive app listed in this post, this app is available for the iPad only. It offers a variety of activities and levels of play, and even allows the user to choose which of several different country's coins they would like to use. 
  • Identify and compare coins.
  • Count coin value
  • Reinforce coin skills by calculating correct change.
  • Track progress with your score.
  • Multiple levels of difficulty. Start as a beginner with Level 1 - it only presents low denominations for easier coin math. Work your way up to an expert level with all coin denominations.
  • Learn gives you an interactive tutorial on understanding each coin. It explains who is on each coin, and lets you flip coins to see both sides.
  • Jungle Coins makes it easy to switch to other coin sets instantly and challenge you with unfamiliar coins.

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