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Manipulating Money
In honor of Presidents’ Day, take the opportunity to point out to your students that most U.S. coins feature pictures of past American presidents. Then, let your students explore the coins hands-on with these fun activities!
  • Coin Rubbing—Divide the class into groups of three or four, and provide each group with several different coins to share. Then, give each student a sheet of paper and some crayons. Have students place the paper on top of a coin and gently color over the paper with the side of a crayon to make a coin rubbing. Encourage them to repeat the process with both sides of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. The result will be colorful imprints of a variety of coins!
  • Penny Probability—Place three pennies and a dime into a paper bag. Ask students to predict which of the two types of coins they are likely to pull out of the bag at random. Test their predictions by drawing a coin out of the bag and recording which coin was selected. Replace the coin and repeat this process 10 times. Allow different student volunteers to take turns removing and replacing the coins. At the conclusion of the demonstration, guide students in discovering that the probability of selecting the penny out of the bag is 3 out of 4, while the probability of selecting the dime is only 1 out of 4.
  • Simple Sorting—Reinforce categorizing and sorting skills by having students work in pairs to sort jars of coins into piles by coin type. Then, have them arrange the different piles in order by size or by value.
  • Penny Predictions—Hold up a penny and ask students to guess how many drops of water they think will fit on the penny. As they guess, ask them to explain why they think their guesses are reasonable. Then have each student work with a partner and give each pair a penny, an eyedropper, and a small cup of water. Encourage the pair to designate one person to count while the other carefully places drops of water onto the penny—one drop at a time until the water “overflows” and drips off of the surface of the penny. Then have them switch roles to try it again. Invite the class to compare their results and discuss whether or not they were consistent. (You might want to provide a simple explanation for how the water drops cling to the penny’s surface and create a “net” called surface tension until the force of gravity becomes stronger than the water and causes the “net” to break.)
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