It’s all about the Money… Money… Money…
Believe it or not, many kids are just not as streetwise with money as we used to be. This probably boils down to the fact that they have little need to handle it anymore. It's not considered safe to send them on their own to the corner shop in some areas as we used to do and supermarket transactions are generally made with plastic.
Knowing how to deal with money inside and out is like the bread and butter of maths - it deals with all kinds of adding and subtracting. Gone are the days for most of choosing 10 sweets for a 10p mix, 20p if you were really lucky and while you were there, picking up a 25p chocolate bar. Children who did this had memorised 10 + 25 = 35 and they knew they would be expecting 15p change from their 50p weekly spending money as they made the purchase over and over again and this was all because they linked it to the good stuff... sweets!
Children who use money (I'm not talking about just handing it over - I mean those who know to add up the prices to check they have enough money to pay with and can work out the change they will get) are better at maths because they are confident with the basics. So, how can I re-create this in our day and age I hear you ask?
For the younger ones
1. Recognise - I know it can be hard these days, but get hold of some REAL coins and do lots of touching and feeling them. Study them together and learn what they are. Sort them into groups of the same coin.
Practise counting in 1s with 1p's, 2s with 2p's and 10s with 10p's.
2. Equals - Make the same amount with different coins. Example - one 10p = five 2p's.
3. Spending money - Offer to give them some spending money. Show them some coppers (perhaps 10 coins adding up to less than 50p) and show them a single coin (maybe 50p or £1). Ask them which they would like.
4. Adding - Add coins together to see what they will make, Example - 50p + 20p + 2p. Perhaps give them some money every week in differing amounts and different coins (something like 15p).
Then they could count up how much they have so far each week.
Move on to adding the cost of 'things' to get a bit of real life in there.
5. Subtracting - Use the coins to subtract. Example - If you have two 20p's and three 2p's say: How much do I have here? They will say 46p (hopefully). Then say, I need 20p to put in my purse for parking, how much is left now? NB: Notice at this stage, the amount to be taken away can be done without swapping any coins.
You could move on to coin swapping when they are confident. Example - You have one 50p and two 5p's and you try to take 20p.
For the older ones
1. How many in...? - Using the coins, experiment with how many 20p's there are in £1.00. You can link the pattern with how many 5p's there are in £1.00. Work towards quick recall of how many times any coin goes in £1.00.
2. Making £1.00 challenge - You may not have enough coins but it can be written out, different ways to make £1. Example - one 50p, one 20p, three 10p's.
3. At the fish and chip shop - Take them in. Look at the board together and add up everything that everyone wants. Tell them what note they'll be paying with (yes, let them pay - tell them they have the responsibility of paying) and ask them to work out how much change they will get.
4. Finding change from £1.00. Use coins if you need to. Practise this one a lot. They can use column method until they are confident mentally.
Talk about the trick for adding up to 100. The tens column adds up to 9 and the units adds up to 10.
Move onto finding change from £5.00, £10.00 and £20.00.
5. Think up random word problems - you can do this anywhere. Example - I go to the shop and I buy a ball for £1.99 and a bat for £4.50. I pay with a £10 note, how much change do I receive? There is so much you can do with this... At first they may need to add up and take away using column method (the old fashioned way we used at school where you carry the 10).
After a while they'll be able to do it in their head. You can talk about rounding £1.99 up to £2 and then taking 1p from the answer. All the practical skills you use in everyday life, they need them! I've found that when children are asked to do this in a mental maths test, many add up the prices but forget to take away afterwards.
For the advanced
1. Turning around the pet-hate for grandparents - If something came to £3.05 and you paid with a £5 note, you might say, 'I'll give you the 5' which would then make it £5.05, hence £2 change. Understanding this and what to do stands them in good stead for working in a shop later on.
The most important things:
Little and often - before school, on the way home from school, driving to Gran's, walking around the supermarket, before bed, at the dinner table, etc.
Repetition - Just like learning times tables, doing it once is not enough.
Check out our resources for money here.
Have a question? Could you share your experiences to help others? Please comment below.