“Is this the penny or is this the penny?” my kindergartner asked.
I looked at him in amazement. The penny is the easiest coin!!!!! If he couldn’t identify a penny, I knew there was no way he would be able to name any coin.
We all know that this is a skill we needed to develop. I also know that my first grader needed to practice counting money I decided to create this activity. It turned out to be a ton of fun. I loved that is was super easy to set up. Most of all I loved the thinking that happened.
What do you need?
I love STEM projects that only require a few item, but get a lot of thinking in. This is one of those. You only need four things!!!!
- Duplo LEGO or LEGO
- real or play coins
- pencil or colored pencils for the sketch and questions
- Free printable found at the end of the post
To get started, all we had to do was choose four different LEGO blocks. I then placed a penny next to one, a nickel next to the second one, then a dime for the third LEGO, and a quarter under the final LEGO. On the second and third challenge, I allowed the boys to decide which LEGO should equal which coin.
Let the Challenge Begin
The beginning of the challenge starts with a simple counting of money. My 1st grader counted out the money needed to complete the first challenge. My kindergartner was required to name each coin and what it was worth as his big brother gathered up the correct change.
Next, each boy handed me the money in front of them. They told me how many of each LEGO they should receive. Since it was just the three of us, I was the banker. If you are homeschooling, obviously you can be the banker. Even if you are a classroom teacher, I would highly recommend doing this is a small group. You can be the banker for the LEGO, making sure that the students are correctly practicing money skills.
With the LEGO in front of them, both boys sketched what their final creation would look like.
Time to Build
I have to admit, that in this part of the STEM project I normally leave the table for a little bit. I have a tendency to want to jump in and help more than I should. When I remove myself from the table, it allows my boys to explore and try without being able to look at me for help…..or being a horrible teacher and intervening before I should.
It wasn’t long though until I was called back to help since both boys decided they needed new LEGO.
- My kindergartner was required to tell me what each LEGO was worth, and the name of the coin he needed to purchase it.
- My first grader, played more with the money. He gave me back the LEGO he didn’t want, and I required him to tell me how much change he should get. He then used that money to purchase the new LEGO.
How Did Practicing Money Skills with LEGO Work For Us?
The first challenge was pretty easy for both boys. My kindergartner designed a rectangle!
The second challenge provided to be a little more difficult. My first grader did a lot of work to create a capital A. He didn’t like that it wasn’t perfect at the top, but he had run out of money to create it exactly the way he wanted.
I loved his thinking! The numerous times he traded out LEGO trying to get the perfect letter showed determination. Even though he wasn’t completely satisfied with his letter, he was successful in my eyes. He was able to purchase the blocks he needed, figure out how much change he should receive, and try numerous strategies to make his structure.
Works for me.
Grab you some coins, LEGO, and allow your little children’s minds to grow at they build, design, learn names of coins and their values, as well as count money.
You’ve Got This
Want more STEM ideas? Check out this incredible book with over 52 free STEM ideas.
Download the free printable HERE.
Need other coin activities? Check out these other great ideas.
- Free Coin Amount Clip Cards from Life Over C’s
- Money Games from The Measured Mom
- Coin Identification with Ten Frames from Math Coach’s Corner