My son really enjoys and has a natural affinity for money math.
He used to “play” with quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies while his older brother did homework.
Before he was able to skip count, he knew that ten dimes were a dollar.
I think it worked so well for him because it was practical and hands-on. No matter what the reason, this has been a mathematical strength for him for some time.
Friday Fun-days: 52 weeks of Easy For Mom Activities
For this week’s Friday Fun-Day activity, I wanted to to harness this ability to help my son with more advanced math skills. I also needed something that was easy to do and allowed him to rest and recover after an outpatient procedure. He needed to refrain from too much activity (not easy for this always moving boy). This captured his interest and kept him relatively still.
We began by making our own coins to use in a kind of cultural money exchange.
What You Need For This Activity:
Kids Air-Dry Clay
Washable Paint in Metallic Colors
Hands-On Math For Older Learners
Step 1: Shape the clay into coins of various sizes.
Step 2: Use the toothpicks to create designs and designate value.
Step 3: When your son decides he would rather make Harry Potter Coins instead of Ancient Greek or Roman coins, allow him to do just that. (It won’t matter for the math part and he will be thrilled).
Step 4: Once the ‘coins’ have dried, paint them in one of the metallic colors. We used gold, silver and copper.
Step 5: Once the paint is dry, you now have foreign currency to use in a kind-of math exchange.
Harry Potter Money Activity
Once my son was able to pick-up and hold the Galleons, Sickles and Knuts he had created, we began to solve math problems based on how he would convert our American muggle money, into wizarding world coins and vice versa.
We randomly assigned values. Because I wanted to challenge him and practice multiplication, I did not allow all of the coins to convert in increments of 10 (although you could easily do that with a less practiced learner).
We started with these conversion rates.
1 Galleon = 100 American Dollars
1 Sickle = 43 American Dollars
1 Knut = 7 American Dollars
And then the math word problems.
How much is 35 sickles worth in our world?
If you have 72 dollars, how many knuts can you exchange them for?
I have two galleons, 23 sickles and 4 knuts. How much do I have total in American money?
Then, we changed up the values to keep the math interesting. For example, at one point, 1 Galleon was equal to 45,689 American Dollars. We also eventually looked up the values JK Rowling gives in the books and used those as well.
Finding hands-on math activities for an older learner can be difficult. In this instance, my son’s idea to use something he is greatly interested in made this a total success!
Looking for more hands-on learning?
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.