Invite children preschool age and up to sort coins with this Montessori-Inspired sensorial activity.
This coin sorting Montessori-Inspired sensorial activity can stimulate learning and encourage preschoolers, kindergarteners, and young elementary students to focus attention and develop the senses.
Please don’t offer this sensory activity to kids 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 the children to sort coins.
Montessori Sensorial Activities
Montessori believed that children learn about their environment and begin to understand it by developing their sensory system.
This is why Montessori designed sensorial activities to stimulate one or more of the five basic senses.
Toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners thrive when they are encouraged to participate in a wide variety of sensorial experiences.
How is Sorting Coins a Sensorial Activity?
Coin sorting is a Montessori-inspired sensorial activity because although Maria Montessori did not design it, the theories behind Montessori sensorial activities inspired it.
Sorting coins is a sensorial activity because it encourages children to focus attention on the sensory characteristics of each coin.
As they sort money, they can begin to notice the subtle differences in visual appearance, texture, weight, dimension, color, relative size, smell, and sound. Use glass bowls to increase the auditory component of coin sorting.
Listening to the sound of my daughter sort the coins is like listening to music. Soon it is easy to discern the difference between a penny and a dime based on the sound. The same experience can happen for children without any “teaching” necessary.
Some of you will notice that I did not mention taste in this Montessori-inspired sensorial activity. Please do not encourage your children to taste the coins. Money is dirty and can be a choking hazard for even an older child.
Coin Sorting Sensorial Activity
Observing, comparing, and sorting coins can help prepare children for the beginnings of logic, reason, and abstract thought.
When children work with sensorial materials like coins or money, there is a “control of error” where they can check their own work without a teacher. This helps children learn to work independently and develop problem-solving skills.
Sorting money can also help children make purposeful decisions based on the sensory information they perceive about each coin. In addition, this decision-making activity can help establish new nerve pathways in the brain.
Related: Calm Down Sensory Bottles 101
Coin Sorting Activity Materials
- Wooden tray
- Apron for kids
- Glass bowls or other containers that can be easily used to sort (I recommend glass for the rich sound experience it provides)
Prepare Coin Sorting Sensorial Activity
- Wash the coins so they are safe for your child to handle. Money is dirty!
- Place a bowl filled with all the coins in the middle of the tray or activity mat.
- Put 4 bowls around the center bowl filled with all of the coins.
- Drop a penny in the top left bowl, a nickel in the top right bowl, a dime in the bottom left bowl, and a quarter in the bottom right bowl.
- Have your child put on an apron as a signal that it is time to work.
Present Coin Sorting Materials
If this is the first time your child has ever tried sorting coins, you will need to demonstrate the activity.
Show the child exactly what you expect them to do by silently and deliberately showing them how to sort coins by placing pennies with pennies, nickels with nickels, etc., for about a minute.
When finished, place all of the coins back into their starting position, as shown in the picture below.
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 set up this money sorting activity would be to have the big bowl of coins at the top with four little bowls below it, or with the big bowl money on the left with four little bowls on the right.
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.
Doing so can help young children forge nerve connections that prepare them for academics. In addition, working top to bottom and left to right in the early years will make reading and math a whole lot easier!
Related: Outdoor Learning Activities for Kids
Invite Children to Sort Coins
Place the coin sorting materials in front of a child and invite them to sort coins.
Ask children to notice any similarities or differences concerning the coin’s size, shape, color, texture, sound, weight, etc.
If the child is not ready or unable to do the activity, gently take their apron off, take the materials away, and try it again at a later date.
Please gently do this and ensure that the child knows that they did not do anything ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’
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Benefits of Montessori Sensorial Activities
Montessori believed it was important for young children to manipulate and classify objects to better understand their environment.
By working with sensorial materials, in this case, coins, children are given knowledge not through teaching but by experiencing it for themselves.
Children that do sensorial activities, like coin-sorting, often find math and reading much easier. In addition, they develop visual acuity and discrimination that enable them to master letters and numbers more easily.
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