If you’ve tried recently to teach money word problems to second grade, you might’ve realized most of your students are really struggling with their coin identification. A quick look at the common core standards reveals the reason why. Students aren’t even taught coin recognition in an explicit standard! I mean, it’s not listed anywhere in the CCSS!

## Start with a Coin Assessment

Okay, so you have a strong feeling students don’t really know their money and you’re trying to introduce word problems and combinations of coins. Whelp. The good news is that once you get past what you’re students don’t know, there are a ton of really fun money activities for 2nd grade. Which means you’re students will have their coin identification down in no time!

But first, start with an assessment. I’ve used the same super easy assessment since I first began teaching over 12 years ago. It’s super simple (just the way I like my teaching) and it works. Even though it’s a one-on-one assessment, it only takes a couple minutes for each student.

## How to Set Up the Coin Identification Assessment

For the assessment all you need is an assortment of coins (real or fake) and an assessment sheet per student. My coin assessment product in my TpT store provides a duplicate assessment so the top half can be torn off and sent home and the teacher keeps the bottom for their records. It makes for a quick note home to parents to help families help practice coin recognition at home.

I always place the coin assessment on a clipboard so students don’t get distracted over what I’m doing. I also like to sit at a table so I can have some space to have the coins laid out (similar to the photo below). Then I ask the student to sit across from me. Again, I do this so students are less focused on what I’m writing and paying more attention to the task at hand.

## Administering the Coin Identification Assessment

I quickly ask the student to identify coins by providing the name. “Show me a penny. Now show me a dime. Show me a quarter. Show me another penny.” I continue in this manner until I’ve asked for each coin multiple times. I do this because sometimes students guessed it right the first time but on the other times they missed it. If a student gets it correct all three times I know they are solid.

Next, I move on to asking how much it is worth. I might say something like. “How much is this coin worth?” and move a penny in front of them. At this point I do not like to say the name of the coin because I want to see if they can identify the coin’s worth. Sometimes students may hear, or have memorized, a coin name and its value. I find this is especially true once I start teaching my students the coin poem.

Click here to get a free copy from Traci Clausen. As soon as students start to memorize the poem, they hear “penny'' and think to themselves “worth one cent.” Then I need to ask if they actually knew the value if I gave them the coin identification? How valid is my data?

## Analyzing the Assessment Results

I find the best way to analyze most assessments is to look at the whole class data. This helps me quickly see any gaps in knowledge or areas I need to make sure I am teaching explicitly. Let’s say I did the coin identification assessment and found that most students did not know the difference between a nickel and a dime (quite common). I would supply some explicit lessons to go over how to determine the difference.

After I’ve analyzed the data I would also make sure to inform parents. My coin identification assessment includes an easy to duplicate and cut assessment page so parents can see exactly what their child needs to practice. There is also a handy informational page filled with easy ideas for how to help their child learn coin recognition at home.

## Teaching Coin Identification

Now we’ve finally reached the point where we will use our assessment data to drive our instruction. If you are like me and teach 2nd, I won’t spend a lot of whole class time on coin identification since it’s technically not in my standards. However, I will introduce over the course of a few weeks several money centers for students to keep practicing their coin identification.

### Create a Coin Identification Book

My first lesson I always do with students is to create a coin book. I created this many, many teaching years ago before there was easy access to adorable clip art and fancy worksheet creation. Way back then I found a money worksheet that had an outline of a piggy bank and photocopied it and used white-out to remove the middle so I could write the page titles. Then I used a masking tape roll to trace a circle for the coins on each page.

I like to be very thorough when doing this activity and take a day for my students to complete each page. I show a very enlarged coin on my document camera and we discuss the details. Then students are given mini magnifying glasses and a fake coin (sometimes real if I have enough on hand) to examine very closely. We talk about all the tiny details. Then students draw these details on their book page. We then repeat the process each day for the remaining coins.

Each day we are drawing the coins, we are reading the coin poem multiple times. By the end of the week most (if not all) students will have memorized the poem. I also like to hang my money posters up in the room at this time. Make sure you do this step after you’ve assessed students.

### Introduce a Variety of Coin Identification Centers

Now that we’ve studied what makes each coin unique, students are ready to practice coin identification in a variety of center activities. In my next blog post I’ll detail several of my favorites.

To keep students engaged and on task during centers, I suggest introducing no more than one new activity a day. Provide students a chance to practice it correctly before adding another new activity. Also, don’t be afraid to introduce a new center as part of your math warm ups for the day. This will allow students to model and practice under your supervision.

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