An Introduction to Coins


Using real or paper coins, students will discuss what they know about coins, coin values, and place their coins in value order. This lesson answers questions about what coins are and how we can spot the differences between coins.


  • Students will examine different coins and identify their characteristics and value.
  • Students will place coins in order according to value.

Subject Area

  • Math


  • K
  • 1st
  • 2nd

Class Time

  • Total Time: 0-45 minutes


  • Real or paper coins for each student – 10 pennies, 5 nickels, 5 dimes
  • Scissors (if allowing students to cut their own coins)
  • Coins Values Worksheet

Lesson Steps

Discuss what students already know about coins (10 minutes)

1. Start this lesson by placing a handful of coins in a spot where all the children can see them. Ask your students what they see. Continue the discussion by asking what we use coins for, whether they ever use coins, and when they have used coins.

2. If using real coins or individual cutouts of coins, give each student a container of coins. Ask students to keep the containers closed until all directions are given. Also inform them that all the coins and boxes MUST remain in their work area (floor or desk) at all times. When they use the coins, they should takeout only the number of coins they will need to do the problem.

3. If using coin images on paper or digitally, make sure students have a worksheet pulled up or printed in front of them. If using individual paper or real coins, each student should have 10 pennies, 5 nickels, 5 dimes, and 5 quarters.

Observe and discuss coin characteristics and values (20 minutes)

4. Show the students a penny. Have them each take a penny out of the box and look at it. If using a worksheet, ask students to focus on the penny.

5. Ask several questions and chart their responses on a web graphic organizer.

      • What is this coin is called?
      • Just by looking at the coin, what can you tell me about it?
      • Whose face is on the coin? What do you know about this person?
      • Does this coin have writing on it? What does it say?
      • What does "Liberty" mean? Why might this coin say "Liberty" on it?

6. Direct their attention to where the coin says "One Cent" and explain that every coin has a value. Write "value" on the board and see if the students know what the word means.

7. Have your students put the penny down and take out a nickel to examine.

8. Ask similar questions as asked in step 5, and chart the responses on a new web. See if your students can find the value of the nickel. If a penny is worth 1 cent, and a nickel is worth 5 cents, how many pennies equal a nickel?

9. Repeat the steps above for the dime and quarter. Observe and create a web organizer for each coin.

10. Review the values of each coin and ask which coin has the greatest value? Which has the least value? Which is the largest coin? Which is the smallest coin? Does it matter which coin is biggest in size? Why or why not?

Practice Counting with Coins (10 minutes)

11. Have the students lay out all their dimes in a row and count them. How many do they have?

12. Now, have the students take out the rest of their coins and continue the row by placing the coins in order of the ones with the greatest value to the ones with the least value. What comes after dimes? How many nickels do they have? What comes after nickels? How many pennies do they have?

13. As a class, count the value of all the pennies (1,2,3…10 cents). Do the same thing with nickels(5,10,15…25 cents) and dimes (10,20,30…50 cents).

14. Discuss the fact that even though there are more pennies than dimes, the dimes are worth much more than the pennies. And even though there are the same number of nickels and dimes, the dimes are worth more money than the nickels.

Place Coins in Value Order (10 minutes)

15. Using the Coin Value Worksheet, ask students fill in answers to questions about coins and then to place their real or paper coins in the correct order.

16.If students do not have individual coins, they can cut out coins from the worksheet to use or put the letter of each coin on the corresponding circle (i.e., put a P where the penny would go, an N for nickel, Q for quarter and D for dime).

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow students to work in small groups to complete the worksheet together.
  • Write/display the values of each coin somewhere visible if students are having a hard time remembering.


Use the students' participation in the discussion, ability to differentiate between the coins and organize them, understanding of the meaning of "value," and learning of the value of each coin to assess whether they have met the lesson objectives.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.MD.C.8 Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately. Example: If you have 2 dimes and 3 pennies, how many cents do you have?

National Standards

Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Discipline: Mathematic Domain: K-2 Number and Operations Cluster: Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems. Grade(s): Grades K–2 Standards: In K through grade 2 all students should
  • count with understanding and recognize "how many" in sets of objects;
  • use multiple models to develop initial understandings of place value and the base-ten number system;
  • develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections;
  • develop a sense of whole numbers and represent and use them in flexible ways, including relating, composing, and decomposing numbers;
  • connect number words and numerals to the quantities they represent, using various physical models and representations; and
  • understand and represent commonly used fractions, such as 1/4, 1/3, and 1/2.

Discipline: Mathematics Domain: All Communication Cluster: Instructional programs from kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to Grade(s): Grades K–2 Standards:
  • organize and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication
  • communicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others;
  • analyze and evaluate the mathematical thinking and strategies of others; and
  • use the language of mathematics to express mathematical ideas precisely.

Discipline: Mathematics Domain: All Connections Cluster: Instructional programs from kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to Grade(s): Grades K–2 Standards:
  • Recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas
  • Understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another to produce a coherent whole
  • Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics

Discipline: Science Domain: K-4 Content Standards Cluster: Science as Inquiry Grade(s): Grades K–2 Standards:
  • Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understand scientific inquiry