Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Repeat Post : Mystery Bag - Coins

This post was originally published late spring, last year. I am publishing it again so as to be paired with the coin bank game. The Mystery Bag - Coins is presented before the Coin Bank Game. Hope this helps.

Child with blindfold on and carefully feeling the edge of a coin to classify and label it.

My most recent presentation was on the mystery bag: coins. This is the second mystery bag in my classroom. The first is a draw string bag in which the children place the typical items - bell, comb, pinecone, eraser, etc. The children generally enjoy this work. It is one of the first materials used to introduce the use of the blindfold to the children. *Note: Part of the lesson on how to use a blindfold includes placing a tissue over the back side of the blindfold and therefore between the child's eyes and the cloth as a precaution of spreading eye infections. The tissue is discarded after the child's use and never shared with another child.

The mystery bag: coins is a wonderful lesson that the children get very excited over. I use it prior to any work with money and math. It is a sensorial lesson on the coins that also couples the language to the item; specifically penny, nickle, dime and quarter. I follow this lesson, after a week or so, with a lesson on coin rubbing. The goal is to familiarize the child with the size, shape, and weight of each individual item, classifing the like items and labeling them.

When I introduce the mystery bag: money, I talk about my ability to reach into my purse or my pocket and instinctively pull out a quarter or a dime without looking - using my hand alone. Therefore I always select a beautiful purse for the mystery bag: money. The one I now have in my classroom is velvet with wonderful embroidery on its front. The lining is gold silk. When I slowly open the purse to reveal its luxurious lining, I make a point to note that the lining is gold like the golden beads. This is a subtle visual/mental link to the math materials and a suggestion that counting coins is a mathematical act. The children usually look awe struck when I reveal the color of the lining to them. Tucked inside one of the interior pockets is a blindfold and in another the coins.

Child removes blindfold from inside pocket of purse/mystery bag.

After taking out each of the coins and examining them without a blindfold so as to be reminded of each coins characteristics, the child places all of the coins back into the purse/mystery bag.

A blindfolded student carefully feels the ridge of a quarter before naming and classifying it.

Slowly, I draw one coin out at a time and, in an exaggerated way, I feel the coin and identify highlights like a ridged edge (quarter), thickness or size. After I place all of the coins on the working rug, I take out the blindfold and position the tissue. Next, I return the coins to the largest pocket inside the purse.

Carefully, I place the blindfold over my head and cover my eyes. With purposeful movement, I pull one coin out from the pocket. I turn it over and over in my hand. I rub my fingers along its edge. I trace the circumference of the coin with one of my fingers. I pause for a silent moment and then say the name of the coin, "Quarter." With the blindfold still covering my eyes, I place the coin out in front of myself and reach into the purse for another. I know that there are four of each coins placed inside the purse because I put them there myself. I count each coin until collectively I have sixteen placed on the rug in front of me. Next, I remove my blindfold and give a look of amazement at my work. The children love to see me do work. They also love to see me use the blindfold. That act alone secures my audience.

After I do this initial presentation, I hand each child a coin and ask the them to place the coins on the rug in front of them. I need to see what they have in order to ask for it. I then go from one child to the next asking for a quarter, a nickel, a dime or a penny. Ex. "Sam would you please hand me a quarter." After all of the coins have been returned, I place each face up on the rug for the next part of the lesson. I now ask each of the children, individually, the names of specific coins. "Sam, what is the name of this coin?" I ask pointing to a quarter.

Next I start to put the coins, one at a time, back into the purse while singing, "Goodbye quarter! Goodbye quarter! We'll see you another day." I do this with every coin until there are none left. This is an adapted version of a three period lesson.

A magical moment: This student spontaneously started adding the coins and doing math with them while wearing her blindfold. "5 cents plus 5 cents is 10 cents," she said. She counted and added until she had all of the coins back inside the purse/mystery bag. Wow!!!


Bridget said...

What a stunning way to learn to identify coins! Montessori children are so lucky.

Laura said...

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I am excited to be returning to a Montessori classroom this fall after a 9-year stint in public education. I have recently started my own blog to document my journey back into Montessori. I am sure your blog will continue to inspire me and others and have listed a link to it on the sidebar of my new blog. Keep blogging!