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Value for money

Q) My Year 1 pupils find it difficult to make a link between value and a pile of coins. Have you any suggestions that might help them with their understanding of money value?

A) The size of our coins is not proportionate to their value - a 2p coin is larger than a 5p. Pupils should be handling real coins in the maths classroom so that they have a feel for the weight and size of each. At this stage they are also learning about the concept of number, often using same-size single elements. This can be duplicated on the coins by sticking small round stickers onto the coins - five on a 5p coin and two on a 2p coin. Magnetic Money (see details at end) provides large versions of our coins that can be used on a metal surface. Stickers could be more easily attached to these.

I saw a great piece of money activity software at the recent BETT show.

MathBase 3 ( reinforces understanding of value and piles of money. Schools can use it free on a trial basis until April. It is easy to load and easy to understand.

Q) I teach Years 5 and 6 together in a small village primary school. I want to practise money calculations as a whole-class activity, rather than as two separate year groups. I would like the activity to help them understand the value of large amounts of money.

A) For pupils today, understanding the value of money is potentially confusing. We now pay for so many transactions with plastic debit or credit cards that children don't make the connection with money as they don't see cash being exchanged.

When teaching about money, we also need to be aware of the status attached to having money and that children can be adversely affected by these issues. There might be a lack of money in the home, for instance, and a great deal of associated tension.

Before playing this "shares" game, encourage pupils to bring in pictures of objects they most desire, from horses and drum sets to houses. Blow them up and stick onto card with a price ticket.

Investing in stocks and shares carries risk: they can go down as well as up. Less obviously, while some investments bring a large return, others bring only a modest one. The idea behind the game is to mirror the risk when investing in shares that may bring only a modest return (the extension activity also includes loss in value).

The class is split into teams, each with a set of coins and notes of all current denominations, available as Magnetic Money (see details at end) or you could make them out of paper. Each team has a row or column on the board. In turn, each team rolls a dice. They then have to choose a coin or note to invest; each can be used only once. The value of the return is the value of the investment multiplied by the number on the dice (correctly calculated - or, perhaps, forfeited).

If they roll a four, and choose to invest pound;50, this would add pound;200 to the team's total investment. Unlike real shares, they know the increase ahead of time, but, like real shares, they do not know what will follow. For example, at an early stage of the game they may roll a five. It may be tempting to use a mid-value note, say pound;10, making pound;50.

But, by chance, it may happen that this is the largest return they obtain and a larger investment is wasted on a throw of one at the end of the game.

The investment and its return are placed on the board, and the team's "pot" recalculated. The team to make the greatest return on investment wins. Teams can "buy" their desires from the pictures they brought in. Perhaps they could collect them over a series of days or week by week - does the wise team save its "pot"? To extend the activity, use a second dice to determine whether it is a gain or a loss, rolling it after the investment is made to increase the risk. This activity focuses on money and also puts calculations in context while engaging pupils in probabilistic type activity.

Just a thought:

Pennies make pounds

A clink of change in the pocket.

Used as payment of some docket.

Pennies make pounds,

some pleasant sounds

of childhood wealth.

Risking pennies on some shares.

Using as much as one dares.

Pennies make pounds,

some pleasant sounds

of childhood wealth.

What is politics after all?

"C'est l'argent", says Charles de Gaulle.

Pennies make pounds,

some pleasant sounds

of childhood wealth.

If only someone had said it;

'The danger of too much credit!'

Minus pennies make minus pounds,

becoming such unpleasant sounds

leading to adult debt.

* Magnetic Money is available from Philip and Tacey Tel: 01264 332171

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