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Missing Coin Puzzles

How do we elevate skills practice into something more meaningful and engaging? One way is to turn it into a puzzle!

Think about traditional coin-counting practice. Students are shown a collection of coins and they count the coins to find the total. They know all the partsโ€”the coinsโ€”and they are looking for the totalโ€”the sum. So, how can we turn that into a puzzle? How about if we give them the total and some of the parts (the coins they can see) and ask them to find the missing parts (the coins they don’t know). That’s exactly what I did with these missing coin puzzles! Now, we are combining coin-counting and problem-solving, which embeds process standards (also called mathematical practices) into the activity.

missing coins

Students can record their work in their math journals so you can check for understanding. And if you have students write about how they solved one of the puzzles, you’re incorporating mathematical communication as well!

One last note. Be sure to put some real or manipulative money in the workstation to support the kiddos! Click here to grab your free missing coin puzzles.

If you download and use this, I would love for you to leave a comment!

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    1. Thanks, Linda! My goal is always to make no-fuss stuff! Teachers have too much to do to spend a lot of time prepping a workstation.

  1. Hi Donna,
    I want you to know how much I appreciate all the freebies you give out. I signed up by email and look forward to reading your blog each day! Thank you for sharing!
    Stacey B
    Grade 2

    1. I love introducing problem solving whenever I can, so thanks for that compliment, Quiana! The kiddos should definitely have play money to help support this workstation.

  2. I am happy to leave you “happy dance” comments in exchange for the outstanding math activities you create on a daily basis. I truly look forward to receiving your updates…you’re a real asset to this community.

    1. Thanks, Mary! The kiddos could even make their own “missing coins” cards–I bet they’d love that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I printed these for my second grade daughter, but might use them with my high Kinder kids….As usual, I am pinning your link. I am always drawn to your awesome ideas!
    Krista Diaz

  4. Thanks for the great activities. This activity was perfect, since we are working on money right now. I put this activity in my math centers today. The students enjoyed the new activity and were challenged by it.

  5. Thanks — this is fantastic! We just finished up adding on using coins in first grade, and are moving into a unit on addition and subtraction (including missing addends). We are using this as a connection/extension along with the Thanksgiving missing addend freebie. Your work is always so timely! (…or perhaps this just shows how connected mathematics can be!)

    One thing: the circles were a little confusing for some students as they look the same size as a penny or dime, but could also represent a nickel. I changed them to boxes with question marks, and the students used our coin stickers to complete it.

    Thanks again for all you do!

    1. Hey, Jenna! I think you hit the nail on the head–it’s ALL connected. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I like the idea of the box instead of the circle. I actually thought about the circles when I made it. I thought about making the circles the same size as the coin to give a little extra support, but in the end I just went with a generic circle. Coin stickers…excellent!

  6. What wouldn’t I want to download from your page? I love math and teaching math so all of your posts are valuable to me!
    Very much appreciated!!


    1. Best of luck to you in your first year! That can be so tough. I’m glad that your find my blog to be a support to you. Glad to help! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Thank you for including some challenge activities. I teach the higher 2nd grade math group which includes a handful of GT students. They always either already know the skill or master it immediately. It’s a constant challenge for me to find something differentiated enough to challenge them!

  8. These are perfect! Thank you! I am also going to be using them with my niece who is having trouble in math, and my daughter who can’t get enough of learning. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Thank you so much for all of your activities and ideas. I’ve used many. I really appreciate what you do. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Thank you for all that you share! I appreciate the all the freebies that you provide and the explanations! I teach 1st grade, but I am in constant search for my higher end to supplement our math program. You do wonderful work. Thank you again!

  11. These are wonderful! Love that you tied in the problem solving aspect. Thank you for your willingness to share your amazing ideas!

  12. Thanks! I can never find enough creative ways for my students to practice money skills. I feed them a constant diet of money counting and I have to keep if fresh. This is an awesome way to incoporate some higher level thinking into a money lesson.

  13. These will be fantastic for my second graders to get back into the swing of stations when we return to school next week ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks so much!

  14. Another great idea! I work at an after-school program so I like to keep the kids engaged in academic activities that are also fun. This could also be used in “scoot” type of activity so kids can move around to solve different coin mysteries!

  15. This is perfect for my class! I have kiddos who are still struggling to identify the coin and skip count, but others are reading for a challenge! This will be great for them! Thank you for sharing!

  16. Love your Missing Coins extension activity for our PWCS second graders here at Neabsco! You’re an awesome resource Donna!

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