My seven year old is obsessed with numbers. He loves to count, even multiply, doing much of the math in his head. It makes me chuckle sometimes because his older brother was the same way (and still is for the most part.)
Instead of stopping my chores, I challenged him while he waited. "Can you think of different ways to make a dollar? Put them in groups and I'll be there in a bit."
A few minutes passed as I finished folding laundry, then he came running back into my room. "I'm almost there! I've got $7.50!"
The excitement in his voice switched my priorities in an instant. The laundry sat on my bed, not put away, as I followed him into his room. On the floor he had neat little stacks of pennies and nickels, all grouped correctly: 10 pennies in a stack with 10 stacks together; 10 nickels in a stack with 2 stacks together.
I checked his math; he was right. $7.50 in coins!
"How much more money do you need?" I asked. He pondered for a moment, then jumped up just as excited as he was before.
"I need $2.50 to get up to $10! I bet I have that in quarters!"
He pulled out his small quarter collector and counted each quarter inside. "Mommy! I have $3.00 in quarters! That means I will still have fifty cents left!"
In less than twenty minutes, my son not only realized he could use the coins he's been saving to buy a Lego toy he's been eyeing up, but he also mastered some pretty impressive math for only being in second grade.
We put his $10 in change in a ziplock bag then put the extra pennies and nickels back in his bank to start saving again.
We went to Target and he found his toy. As we approached the checkout line, I was curious to see how the self checkout worked. (And, let's be honest, I figured it would be an awesome random act of kindness to NOT make the cashier have to count out 200 pennies, 60 nickels and 20 quarters!)
You can image our joy when we discovered the tiny coin slot in the self checkout machine! Our little guy was able to "spend" each and every coin he brought.
It was fascinating to watch the computer count down the money he had inserted and show how much money still needed to be paid.
Even his older brother got in on the fun, helping him to push the coins in faster and faster.
Through trial and error we learned that when the light is green everything works great. When the green light disappears, however, you have to wait a few moments as the machine finishes counting the inserted coins.
Finally we were done. My children got to experience saving and spending in a new way, all of which emphasized math skills.
For those of you wondering, "What about the dimes?" we have a separate saving system for them. We are saving our Dimes for Disney!
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