Pompeii Money (Age 5)

The Activities

  1. Topic: Lines, Shapes. The Case of the Missing Zebra Stripes by Time-Life Books. (Page 40 – 47). This section was about lines: parallel, intersecting, shapes.
  2. Topic: Money, Addition. I showed the kids glass beads that I said were money from a different country.  Green beads were worth $3, red beads were $2, and yellow beads were $1. First I handed out small handfuls of money, and helped the kids add it up.  Next we figured out how much more money each kid needed to have $20. Finally, I opened up a Math Circle store where the kids could spend their money on tiny toys.

    My kids playing 'store' after circle.

    My kids playing ‘store’ after circle.

  3. Topic: Attributes. I taught the kids Set.  We only used the solid colored cards. First I explained what a Set is: a set of three cards where all three cards either match or are different for each attribute.  Next we looked at two cards and figured out what 3rd card would make a set.  Finally we played Set, laying out 9 cards at a time. Each kid would raise their hand if they thought they saw a Set.

    Each row is a Set.

    Each row is a Set.

How did it go?

Pompeii Money

The kids all said they had seen money before.  I told them that we would play with pretend money from a different country.  I asked what our country should be called? One boy immediately proposed “Bumpitup” which he said was a country that had been destroyed by a volcano.  I asked if he meant “Pompeii”, and he said yes.

I showed the kids the values of the different colors of money, then handed a few beads to each kid.  The kids really varied in their ability to add up the money.  Two of the kids just wanted to count the beads, not add up the dollar amount.  They seemed to understand what was going on, but needed one-on-one help to add 3+3, etc.  Another kid could pretty much do it on their own, with just a little help.  My son could quickly add it all up himself.

We did two rounds of adding small groups of money.  Everyone soon understood that greens were the best, since they were worth three.  Next I worked with the kids to add money so that each had $20.

I asked “What’s the fun thing about money?” One kid said the fun was that you can use money to buy more money.  I then opened the store, which had small stickers and toys available for $2, $5, or $10.  The kids took turns picking an item and paying me the correct amount (often needing help).


My son had played Set before, but the other kids had not.  We practiced finding Sets, and then eventually played a couple rounds. If one kid fell behind, I let that kid have extra time (and clues) to find the next Set.  All 4 kids caught on by the end of circle, and were excited to play.


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