Hairy Money: An Intervention Tool for Counting Coins

Hairy Money: An Intervention Tool for Counting Coins

When I first started teaching, the New Jersey standards required my first graders to learn to count coins up to 99 cents. It was always an extremely difficult concept because it require a lot of skill at once (skip count by different amount, identifying coins and remembering their value, addition etc) Thankfully, the standards have since been revised, and new math standards don’t expect students to count coins until second grade in my state. However, this is still a bit of a tricky skill, so I would like to share an intervention tool that has been very helpful in my classroom as students are learning to count coins.

The concept behind hairy money is that it allows students to simply skip count by 5’s to find the total amount.

Each coin gets a certain number of hairs.

Quarters- 5

Dimes- 2

Nickels- 1

Penny- 0

Each hair counts for 5- so a quarter is worth 25 cents, a dime is worth 10 cents, a nickel is worth 1 cent, and a penny has zero hairs and is worth 1 cent.

So, when students are counting coins, they simply line them up from greatest to least value, draw the correct number of hairs on each coin and then skip count by 5’s to find the total. Once they finish counting the silver coins, they say stop (I have them draw a line dividing the silver coins and then pennies) and continue counting by 1’s!

If students are coining actual coins and can’t draw on them, I have them tap the coins that many times.

(Quarters-they tap with every finger on one hand, dimes-pointer and middle, nickel-pointer).

Since we don’t want this to become a crutch that they use forever, I have my students write the total under each coin as they go, and then, after they’ve counted it up with the hair method, we go back and count it “the regular way” using the amounts they wrote on the bottom.

I find this to be a great intervention tool for students who are struggling with counting coins, and it doesn’t take anything fancy to implement!

As a bonus, I have a freebie in my TpT store that you can use as you teach your students how to count coins! It includes a cute song sung to “The Farmer and the Dell”, a flipper cheat sheet, and a fun game that makes a perfect center! Click the picture below to download it.

If you’d live to see this technique in action, join me live on Facebook on March 14th, 2017 at 8pm est!


Primary Paradise

Primary Paradise

I have always had a passion for teaching and sharing with others and look forward to sharing my ideas with you!

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