Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Montessori Coin Game - Math Activities for the Elderly

I have such wonderful memories of my students using the coin bank game. They really enjoyed using this material and used again and again. Over the past several weeks, I have pieced together a tray to use this game at the Bridge with some of the seniors.

Not all of the adults that attend the Bridge have dementia. A few attend for socialization needs and others attend because they need supervision. That required supervision may be due to the medication that they are on or because the disease they have, such as Parkinson's, limits their capacity to be fully independent.

One of the challenges for the staff is to create activities that promote cognitive skills for those individuals who do not have dementia or Alzheimer's, although they attend a day program where they are immersed in a culture of memory loss or repetitive long term memory recollection.

Adding the Coin Bank Game to the other materials on the Montessori shelves just seemed to make sense.

It provides exercises in identifying the value of specific US coins and the exchange of those coins for others of equal value. This game refreshes and reinforces the skills needed to work with money on a basic level while simultaneously simply being a fun game to play.

This morning, I asked one of the Bridge attendees if they wanted to try a new game. He said he did. I went and got the tray from the shelf and then explained what each of the items on the tray were used for. I then showed him the beautiful lid of the box and explained that it was an image of Russian origins. He told me that he thought is was very pretty. Here is a very important point of interest - as in the classroom, always use beautiful materials.

I lifted the lid of the box and showed him what was inside.

First I took from the box two dice. This is different than the material I made for the classroom (see classroom post here), as I used only one dice for that tray. Using two dice allowed us each to hold onto our own and that limited the required exchange of materials that may have resulted in some confusion for the adults at the Bridge. This is a second vital point; ensure that all materials are psychologically appropriate - this is always significant.

To begin, I asked that the senior participant role his dice. He did. He got a five. He then selected five pennies from the box or bank.

 Next, he exchanged these five pennies for a nickel.

He continued to role his dice and I mine. Each time we chose from the bank the amount on the dice and then, if we could and only during our turn, we made any possible exchanges such as 2 nickles exchanged for a dime, so on and so forth.

The winner of the game was the player who accumulated four quarters via rolls of the dice and then exchanged those four quarters for the dollar bill.

The senior I was playing with won and you can see from his smile that he was most pleased that he did.

After the game ended he said to me, "That game teaches you how to work with money." He then told me that sometimes his caregivers give him money to purchase things. He also said that he has a coin jar at home. The coin game inspired him to think about money in regards to its use in his own life.

Also, shortly after we played this game, he was on the floor engaged in a golf activity with a half a dozen or more other seniors. Perhaps he felt more confident, I really don't know, but when the group was asked to add together the scores of players, he spoke up a few times with the correct answer. This was not a typical scenario. It did reveal that he is capable of mathematical thinking and to articulate his summations out loud. It's good, all good!

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