Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The 'Coin Game'

The 'coin game' is one of my favourite mathematical mental and oral starters, the children always look forward to taking part in the activity. To carry out this with your class all you need is a mug and twelve 2p coins. 

"The aim of the game is to support children's counting and also reinforce learning of times tables". 

I usually begin by selecting a number to count in, corresponding to the relevant focus times table for the week. For example 2's, therefore the 2x table in this demonstration. The first stage of teaching usually involves the coins being dropped into the mug one by one. As the children hear a sound from each coin drop, they count on 2 from the previous number and chant the new number out loud as a class. To challenge the children I tend to increase the speed of the coin drops.

The second part of the activity involves the children closing their eyes and listening carefully for the coin drops (you need to be vigilant as some children try to peek!). This is where I begin to develop children's times table knowledge, the amount of dropped into the jar would represent how many lots of 2's. I usually drop a random number of coins into the mug one by one and then make the children write their end number onto their whiteboards. For example if we were counting in 2's, then should 5 coins have been dropped into the mug we would end on the number 10. 

I have recognised that there are two methods children regularly use:
- Listening to how many coin drops and then multiplying the amount of coin drops by the number we are counting in (Higher ability skill).
OR- simply counting on in the required number for coin drop. 

To reinforce learning you could ask questions like:
-If the answer is 10 how many coins were dropped?
-If 5 coins were dropped, how many lots of 2's make 10? 
-Can you give me the multiplication number sentence for that?
-If 2 coins were dropped we found the answer of 4, what would the end number be if I dropped 4 coins into the mug?
(Sometimes I allow quick bursts of paired talk so that children can work together in learning)

Finally, I like to let the children take control of their own learning. I give them the opportunity to come and 'be the teacher', sit on the 'teacher's chair' and drop the coins into the mug. They really enjoy this element of the game, but it is important to monitor which children have had a turn. This is to ensure all pupils have a fair opportunity to lead the activity.  

I HOPE you have as much fun using the activity as I do.

Ben :-) 

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