Back in the early 2000s, my husband and I joined forces, he as a software engineer and me as a teacher, to design a kids savings and money management software program. We called it KidsSave. In that program we included a fun way to teach kids basic money skills. It was such a powerful tool that we decided to include it for free on our kids and money website.

One of my favorite features of the KidsSave Money Counter is the ability for kids to get immediate feedback. Immediate feedback, as you know, is so important to the learning process. With the KidsSave Money Counter, kids can make predictions about the value of a group of coins and then quickly see if they were right. They love the fun sounds the wheel makes as it turns and as the money is dropped onto the counting pad.

If you don’t already have it, you’ll need to install Microsoft Silverlight to run the program. But it’s easy and super quick to do. The site will prompt you. You just can’t do it if you’re using Chrome so you’ll need to switch to a browser like Internet Explorer.

Once the Money Counter is up and running, it’s easy to use for whole class instruction. Underneath the Money Counter I list a variety of ways parents can use it with their child. But in the classroom you can have students use plastic money and work in pairs to come up with different ways to make a specific amount, say 67 cents. Then, as students share their answers, use the Money Counter to check their calculations. Kids love watching the amounts add up to get to the total.

From there it’s easy to do addition problems. For example, if you had $1.45 and found $0.75, how much do you have all together? Again, kids can work together and then use the Money Counter to check their work.

Some schools open the computer lab during their Family Math Night event. Why not set up a station where kids can reinforce their money skills? Parents can empty their purse or pocket of loose change and match the coins with the Money Counter. With the help from mom or dad, kids can add the values of the coins then use the Money Counter to check their work. And for some added fun, the currency comes in Canadian and Australian coins and bills.

I hope you take the opportunity to check out this free resource. Having a variety of different ways to teach the same concepts can help to solidify important math skills.

And if you’d like to include other fun activities for your Family Math Night event, ourNifty Numbers, Math Medley, and Gellin’ with Geometry kits can help. Our number one priority is to help you host a fun and successful Family Math Night event.