I had a delightful play/learning session with my six year old grand-daughter yesterday. She wanted to play at shops so we played with (and learned about) coins and money. She had no idea what each coin was. Previously coins have been just like other objects – one coin as simply one thing. We began our play with the coins up to 5p. What fun! Buying sweets from the shop and working out how many different ways to make amounts up to 9p: using fives, twos and ones. Once that was okay, I introduced the 10p coin. It’s amazing how many different combinations she then found to make amounts up to 20p: mixing all four coins together. Our game kept her engaged for quite a while seeing how many combinations she could come up with.

It occurs to me that working with coins of different values, and counting in different patterns, is quite a leap from counting objects simply in ones. The idea that one coin can have a different value to another is an important concept for children at this stage in their learning. In Year 2, children practise counting in twos, fives and tens, as well as in ones, so playing at shops and counting money in patterns is an ideal way for parents to reinforce their child’s understanding of coins and money – and prepare children for those first times tables.

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