Missing Coin Puzzles

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

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 parts—the coins—and they are looking for the total—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! 🙂

47 Comments

  1. Linda P

    Thank you very much for your daily freebies! They are easy to work with and right on target!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      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.

      Reply
  2. Ready 2-B in second grade

    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

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks so much, Stacey! I look forward to writing my blog each day, so you and I are a good pair. Ha ha.

      Reply
  3. Qiana Harris

    These are great, and challenging! I really had to stop, and think about a few of these! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      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.

      Reply
  4. louise zirk

    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.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks so much, Louise! Your comment definitely filled my bucket today! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Mary

    Thank you for sharing this activity! I was trying to think of something to do with my money center that would be different and this fits the bill (no pun intended!)!

    Mary
    Teaching Special Kids

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

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

      Reply
  6. Krista

    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

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks, Krista! Glad you find my blog useful and thanks for pinning! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for your daily blog updates! I look forward to them each and everyday!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks so much!

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Oh, good! Love challenging the kids. Thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Jenna

    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!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Hey, Jenna! I think you hit the nail on the head–it’s ALL connected. 🙂

      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!

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      My pleasure, Shibahn! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Michelle

    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!!

    Michelle

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks so much for such a neat comment, Michelle! We math lovers (grammar?) need to stick together!

      Reply
  11. Ashley Pennell

    Thank you for all of your fabulous freebies! I am a first year 2nd grade teacher and I always find so much wonderful and useful stuff on your blog! Thank you thank you thank you for making my life just a little bit easier!!

    Ashley
    http://www.secondgradeparadise.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      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! 🙂

      Reply
  12. stephf54

    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!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Glad you find it helpful! I like to try to incorporate problem solving whenever I can. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Michele

    I used these as our “Problem of the Day” and my students LOVED them! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Yea! Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

      Reply
  14. Molly N. Pray, Live, Learn, Change, Grow

    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. 😉

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Awesome, Molly! Sounds like they will fit the bill for both your niece and your daughter. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Mrs. Irving

    Thank you so much for all of your activities and ideas. I’ve used many. I really appreciate what you do. 🙂

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Aw, thanks! I’m so glad that you’ve found some of my ideas useful!! 🙂

      Reply
  16. Mrs. Schoenwalder

    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!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Totally my pleasure! I’m glad you can use some of my stuff. 🙂

      Reply
  17. Allison

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

    Reply
  18. Lori Breyfogle

    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.

    Reply
  19. Anonymous

    These are perfect – thank you!

    Reply
  20. Heidi Samuelson

    These will be fantastic for my second graders to get back into the swing of stations when we return to school next week 🙂 Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      My pleasure, Heidi!

      Reply
  21. Jacquelyne Puska

    Thanks for this! I love your freebies! I use them as quick morning warm-ups in my classroom!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      That’s a neat use for them, Jacquelyne!

      Reply
  22. Darci

    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!

    Reply
  23. Mariana Spitzberg

    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!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      My pleasure!

      Reply
  24. Amanda

    what an amazing counting coins extension activity! Thank you!

    Reply
  25. Cindy

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

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks!!

      Reply

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