Coin Sorting Activity

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The following has been shared from Nell Kartychok’s blog.  We loved her article about coin sorting.  It is something you can do with your child at home today or this weekend:

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Montessori sensorial exercises help children develop and refine the five senses. Observing, comparing, and sorting objects prepares children for the beginnings of logic, reason, and abstract thought. Competing these types of activities will help children develop an orderly way of thinking and ultimately prepare them for reading and mathematics.

When children work with these types of materials there is a “control of error” where they can check their own work without need for the teacher. These exercises thus help children develop problem solving skills, independence and the beginnings of rational thought.

By working with the sensorial materials, children work at classifying the things around them. Placing objects into different categories thus allows the child to work on organizing their intelligence.

Activities such as coin sorting encourage children to focus attention on the sensory characteristics of the objects: visual appearance, textures, weight, dimensions, color, relative size, smells, tastes, and sounds. Many of these characteristics are used in the simple activity of coin sorting.

When coin sorting children are forced to make purposeful decisions based on the sensory information that they perceive. This decision-making activity thus helps establish new brain nerve pathways.

Four of the eight sensorial categories as defined by Montessori are present in this activity: Visual, Tactile, Baric, and Auditory.

I like to use glass bowls for this activity because it really contributes a wonderful sound. Listening to my daughter complete this exercise was like listening music. As I listened it became easy to discern the difference between a penny and a dime based on sound alone.

Please don’t give this activity to children that are still mouthing objects. Money is dirty and presents a choking hazard. If your child is ready to handle money independently, please wash the coins before allowing your child to do this exercise.


  • Tray or activity mat
  • Apron
  • 5 bowls or other containers that can be easily used to sort
  • Several pennies
  • Several nickels
  • Several dimes
  • Several quarters

Prepare the Activity:

  • Place a bowl filled with all coins in the middle of the tray or activity mat.
  • Place 4 bowls around the bowl filled with all the coins.
  • Place a penny in top left bowl, nickel in top right bowl, dime in bottom left bowl, and quarter in bottom right bowl.
  • Have your child put on apron as a signal that it is time to work.

Present the Materials

If this is the first time that your child has ever done this activity present it first. Show the child exactly what you expect them to do by silently and deliberately doing the activity in front of them. Show but don’t tell. Once finished. Place all coins back in the starting position shown in the picture shown below.

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Montessori activities are always done from top to bottom and left to right to prepare the child for reading and writing. This is why the coins are placed in the bowls in the order listed above and shown in the photo above.

Another good way to do this activity would be to have the big bowl of coins at the top with the four little bowls below it, or with the big bowl on the left with the four little bowls on the right. Feel free to vary positions to increase the challenge each time you do the activity.

Make sure that you always place the money in the little bowls in order from smallest to biggest denomination from top to bottom or left to right. While doing this activity children’s brains will begin to use this information to forge nerve connections and build a strong foundation for later academics.

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Allow Your Child to do the Activity Independently

Place the materials in front of your child and refrain from showing or telling them what to do.

If your child is unable to do the activity gently take their apron off, take the materials away, and try it again at a later date. Please do this in a nice way so as not to upset the child or make them feel that they did anything ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’

The Benefits of Sensorial Activities

By working with sensorial materials such as coin sorting, children are given knowledge not through teaching, but by experiencing it for themselves.

Montessori saw the importance of the manipulation of objects to aid children in better understanding their environment. She designed the sensorial exercises to cover every quality that can be perceived by the senses such as size, shape, composition, texture, loudness or softness, matching, weight, temperature, etc.

Young children who do these activities find learning math and reading much easier. They develop visual acuity and discrimination that enable them to easily master letters and numbers when they’re ready.

See the original blog post here: