Out of the Mouths of Babes

So with one of my students, we are working on counting change, and knowing what the value of money is, up to and including dollars.

I have lots of pennies, so we mainly count pennies. Then out of my purse I dig whatever change I happen to have on me and see how we can tie them together.

My student was born in 2002, so I told her the little superstition that having a penny with your birth year on it is good luck. So now she looks at the years on the pennies to find 2002s. So there is a lot of flipping the pennies over to heads when she remembers.

One penny I noticed was Canadian. I pointed it out to her and she asked who the head of the lady was. I told her it was the Queen of England. And that she was still alive, but that when she died, whoever inherits will probably get their own coin. (Is that even true? I know previous coinage from England had various Kings on it, but would the British and the Canadians really re-mint all their currency once QEII dies? Wouldn’t that be really expensive? Her reign being so long and the global economy having become so global perhaps has changed that thinking.) Anyway, so then she asked who the head on our penny was, and I told her it was Lincoln, our 16th president. She asked if he was still alive. I said no, we were on our 44th president, and all our money had people who were no longer around on it. I asked if she knew who our current president was, and she didn’t and I told her. The name Barack Obama didn’t ring a bell for her. I told her a little more about Lincoln, stressing how much time has passed from our 16th president to our 44th.

Then she pointed to the dollar bill and asked who that head was.

I told her George Washington, our first president.

That name she knew. She excitedly exclaimed, “He was our first president when I was in Kindergarten!”

I then explained he will always be our first president, no matter what grade she is in, and stressed how long ago the 1700s were. That was way too big of a number for her, and we got back to our lesson.

I know I’m supposed to be working on mathematics with her, but if a little history and civics lessons creep in too, I roll with it. Hopefully it will help her remember the different values of our coins.

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