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"Why is a dime smaller than a nickel if it's worth more money?" Trevor asked, dismayed once again by our confusing currency system.
It was a good question, but one I had no answer for.
"I get confused because nickels are bigger, but they're really smaller because they are only 5 cents and a dime is 10 cents," he said. Despite numerous home and school lessons, he obviously was still having a hard time learning to count coins.
Unfortunately, logic doesn't have much to do with learning the values of our currency system. I needed to find a way to teach him how to count money with a lesson that would stick.
"How about a game of dice?" I asked Trevor, getting out my change purse. We took turns rolling a die, earning a penny for every number rolled. Every time we earned five pennies, we cashed them in for a nickel. When we won two nickels, we traded them for dimes and then cashed in two dimes and a nickel to earn a quarter.
We took turns rolling until one of us reached $1 by getting four quarters to win the game.
"This is easy," Trevor said with a grin, as he won his third game in a row. "I keep rolling big numbers."
No one loves to win a game more than Trevor, and his competitive spirit was spurring his desire to learn the rules of the game. Within several rounds of die tossing, he had no trouble remembering how to correctly cash in his coins.
We played every night for a week, and he mastered coins at last. The next lesson? How to wisely spend those coins.