Learning how to tell time and to count money is an important milestone in a child’s education. It is as important as learning to dress oneself, to tie one’s shoes. It gives him a particular kind of independence and confidence. And there are other benefits as well. He will learn, gently and naturally, how to skip count (by fives, tens, and more); and about fractions.
Teaching time is a simple as can be. You’ll need a clock. You clock can be battery operated (without the batteries) or electric (unplugged). You can use a broken clock so long as the hands are still moveable, and will stay put when you set the time. Ours was purchased from a discount department store for under ten dollars. My only criterion was that the clock be analog and not digital. This clock is large enough to be read easily, yet small enough to be handled comfortably by small hands.
Explain the parts of the clock, show your child how the hands can be moved with the knob or dial, and – if you’d like – introduce him to “AM” and “PM”. If your child is, or will be, taking Latin, explaining the origins of those two labels will be a nice introduction and connection.
Next, demonstrate different times by demonstrating to your child how YOU make the different times with the clock, as shown on a series of pre-printed cards (which can be easily created with slips of paper or card and bright markers). I chose to demonstrate the quarter hours from twelve o’clock.
Let her have a go at moving the hands to get her accustomed to moving the dial – backward and forward:
Now let her try setting the time from a card:
Show the different ways in which a particular time might be expressed, including how the same time would look on a digital clock.
If you are a military family, it might be fun to add expressions for the twenty-four hour clock. You might even be able to find an analog clock that has twenty-four hours on it (usually printed in tandem to the usual twelve hours).
Now try another…
Make as many cards, and try as many different times as you are happy doing at one time.
Teaching a child to count money is just as simple. The only tools you need is a jar of change and possibly some small bills. We collect loose change from our wallets, and have a quart sized jar filled almost to the rim.
We tipped our jar of loot out into a lined tray. It keeps all of the coins from rolling away, and muffled the rather loud jingle.
I created labels for each denomination with its common name and its value. I also made labels to tell how many of each denomination equal one dollar. I then placed one of each type of coin below its label. This helps with the sorting activity.
Sorting coins by denomination helps familiarize your child with each type of coin by sight and touch.
Practice creating stacks of ten of each type of coin:
One dollar equivalents for each denomination.
Now, have him make equivalent change from each denomination. Place a one dollar bill on the left, with its label. On the right, place the label that tells what the equivalent in coins is. Here, Louis is counting nickels.
Dimes. With help from Sophie.
Dimes, neatly stacked. Always emphasize tidiness. Subconsciously, this instills a sense of care and good stewardship.
Now some pennies. Stacked neatly in groups of ten. This is sometimes a tedious activity for a child. Help from you, or from another sibling can make it more engaging.
James is helping here to pick out pennies from the pile. He feels like he is doing something meaningful to help, and he is also learning to distinguish pennies from other coins.
Ask questions like: “How many stacks of ten pennies do we need to make 100?”, “How many stacks have you completed?”, “How many more stack do you need to make?” These encourage skip counting, addition, and multiplication. Later, this will help the child relate to simple fractions and decimals.
Sophie counting the stacks of pennies, while James counts single pennies out for her to stack:
Keep the activity light and fun. If your child becomes bored or frustrated, gently suggest finishing another day and pick up your tools. This is an essential skill to learn. It’s a good idea if they have have memories associated with it. but that is true of all of childhood, isn’t it?
Encouraging care and tidiness when putting tools away is pretty important. This activity is one of those that can easily devovle into chaos, noise, and mess. “Gently, softly”, and soft praise for their care.
James putting away the coins. Using a jelly funnel makes it easier and less messy:
Josie tucks the neatly folded bills into the top of the jar. Learning to help and be neat starts early here. 🙂