Money, Money, Money - Ideas for Teaching Australian Money

We began with a whole class discussion to find out what the class already knows about money.  I'll often have children turn and talk to a partner to brainstorm or discuss a question first for a minute or two then bring them back for group discussion.  I will usually use this as an opportunity to begin a word wall with some of the key terms we will need to know going forward.  I try to then have these words up in the classroom ready for the next lesson so students can refer to them.  At a recent PD (professional development) session, the presenter talked of turning this type of material into a classroom big book when it comes down off the wall then the children have this resource available to them for the remainder of the year - an idea I will be using in the future.

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When talking about Australian coins in particular, we need to talk about value rather than size given our $2 coin is one of our smallest (physically) yet the largest in value.  I tend to start by introducing coins first then build up to notes.  The Australian Curriculum link for each grade reflects this -

Yr1 ACMNA017 Recognise, describe and order Australian coins according to their value
Yr2 ACMNA034 Count and order small collections of Australian coins and notes according to their value

In this first lesson, we then made coin creatures after we had ordered all of the coins using some oversized ones I had made by printing and then laminating some images I'd found online.  They worked out pretty well so we used them during group discussions and then on out word wall for the students to play with.  This is what they look like on our wall. 

Teaching Australian Money - ideas for the classroom and Australian coin printables | you clever monkey

For differentiation, with the Year1 students I talked to them about which coins they had made their creatures from?  Which was the largest in size?  Which was the largest in value? Reinforcing those terms we had talked about as a group but the Year2 students I encouraged to add up their creature - how much was it worth?  How can we count lots of coins of the same value quickly?  How do we write it?

Teaching Australian Money - ideas for the classroom and Australian coin printables | you clever monkey

The start of the next lesson began with a quick review of what we know, key terms and sorting of coins from smallest in value to largest then we did a short run around activity.  On each of the students desks I had placed a coin (5c, 10c or 20c).  Their task now was to find others in the class to make 50c together.  The follow-on activity to this was to draw all the different coin combinations that might make up different amounts.  I'd made a sheet with different amounts in speech bubbles from 5c to 95c.  Students cut out each one then drew their coin combinations next to each amount.

For example-
Teaching Australian Money - ideas for the classroom and Australian coin printables | you clever monkey
Our next lesson started with a review task - another run around activity to start us off.   I'd placed different combinations of coins on each student's desk in differing values. One had a single 50c coin, another 2 x 20c and 1 x 10c, another 10 x 5c while on another desk was a single 20c coin and 2 x 10c on another and so on. Their task this time - to find people who have the same value as you. Once everyone had sorted themselves into groups we reviewed everyone's coin collections, the person who had the least amount of coins was the best way to pay... 

We also viewed some great interactive games on the whiteboard which I'd found on the TES website.  They even had an Australian version!!  The Money Machine one allows you to choose different coin to put in the top then equivalent coins come out introducing the idea of best way to pay.

As the follow on activity, students were then asked to go back to their drawings from the lesson before and circle the best way to pay for each amount.  This also proved a useful prompt for many as I walked around asking if they now could think of a better way, a better combination of coins to draw to pay that amount.  It was also a useful assessment task as I could record where each individual was in their understanding so far on a rubric.

Next lesson, I'd placed a selection of toys in the middle of our circle - all with different prices on them.  I asked the students to sort them from the least to the most expensive then we found the best way to pay for them using our giant coins.

Teaching Australian Money - ideas for the classroom and Australian coin printables | you clever monkey

Teaching Australian Money - ideas for the classroom and Australian coin printables | you clever monkey

I then added quite a few more items to our toy shop and we talked about what we could buy if we had $1 or if we had $2.  Would we buy just one toy or would we be able to buy more than one?  I then gave each student some (pretend) pocket money to spend at our classroom toy shop and had them write/draw what they had spent their money on :)

From their work, I was looking to see what strategies they had used - how many different ways could they spend their money?  How did they start?  With a higher price item?  Did they work on multiples items the same lower price?

Next lesson we viewed the TES Toy shop interactive on the whiteboard and discussed the different ways people spent their money in our classroom shop in the lesson before and for a bit of fun, I'd made this coin connect game to finish.  I was also going to make one using coins from other countries as well but it proved a little more challenging than I'd expected to find crisp, clean, single coin images online.  We had talked about our currency and those of other countries.  Luckily for us, one of our students had an older sibling who collects coins who was happy to show us.  From now on I'll be keeping all those loose coins from any trips overseas, they'll make a great coin sorting centre one day.

Teaching Australian Money - ideas for the classroom and Australian coin printables | you clever monkey

In our last lesson for this series, I had student cut 10 pictures from shopping catalogues and order them from smallest to highest price.  This also helped us work on our rounding up and down.

What have you done in your class lately?  I'd love to hear what others are up to :)


  1. Such great ideas! I'm going to share this with my five year old who was just looking at our (Canadian) coins this morning. She'll be interested to see Australian coins! I hadn't seen them before - they're quite beautifully designed!

    I love the creature made of coins idea and the toy shop idea! She'll definitely be motivated to play the shop game!! :)

    1. Thanks Lina. We used the coin creatures to practice our skip counting (counting by 5s and 10s) too - love when their learning has purpose.

      Five year olds could sort coins easily - just mix some up and give her a few smaller bowls to sort them into. Wish I'd kept my spare coins from all my overseas trips years ago. They'd make a perfect sorting activity now. Maybe I should try and organise a coin swap...

      My kids always enjoyed playing shops even with pretend money :)

  2. AnonymousJune 10, 2015

    What great ideas thank you for sharing. I can adapt some of these activities for the grade 2 class I am on my final prac placement for. Great resources too! thank you

  3. Fantastic ...thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas!


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