Activities at Home

What's in the Bag?

If the one-handed approach is too difficult, let your child put both hands into the bag. But still—no peeking allowed!

What You Need:

  • 4 coins—1 penny, 1 nickel, 1 dime, 1 quarter
  • Paper bag
  • Paper and pencil

What You and Your Child Will Do:

  1. Line up the four coins on the table. Make sure that your child can name each one and that he or she knows the value of each. Talk about the relative sizes and values of the coins. Point out that, for example, the quarter is the biggest coin and has the greatest value. But, even though the dime is the smallest coin, it does not have the least value.
  2. Say that you are going to secretly put three of the four coins into the bag. Your child will then reach into the bag and will (without looking) determine the three coins and give their total value. Stress that it makes sense to feel each of the coins in order to compare their sizes before deciding on which three are in the bag.
  3. Now, try it! Out of your child's sight, put three of the four coins into the bag. Then challenge the child to determine the three and their total value.
  4. Give your child the pencil and paper to use for figuring out the total. Encourage your child to start with the coin with the greatest value and then count on. The following combinations and total values of three of the four coins are possible:
    • quarter, nickel, penny 31¢
    • quarter, dime, penny 36¢
    • quarter, dime, nickel 40¢
    • dime, nickel, penny 16¢

    A child who thinks that the bag is holding the quarter, the nickel, and the penny would write, for example,

    Quarter, nickel, penny and text 25¢………30¢………31¢