Using Coins to Teach Fractions, Decimals, and Percents

For many children, mastering the concepts of fractions, decimals, and percents can seem like a daunting task. At the outset, it is important for students to understand that these are all numerical ways of representing the same thing. This may help to simplify the process and provide a basic (and understandable) concept for students to return to if they start to feel confused. With this as a starting point, Greg Harrison, an elementary teacher and Lesson Planet contributor, suggests building on this concept with recognizable objects such as coins. To begin, create a chart on the chalkboard, overhead projector, or marker board with the following headings: "Coins", "Fractions", "Decimals", and "Percents". Open by exploring coins one at a time. For example, ask your students to name which coin has the picture of George Washington on it. Write the name of the coin and it's value under the "Coin" column then ask if any of your students can write it's value in fraction form, decimal form, etc. At each column, be sure to ask your student insightful questions, encouraging your students to think about their answers and why they make sense.

Once your students have mastered converting one quarter, practice with two, three, and finally, four. This exercise can be utilized using any number and combination of coins as your students become more confident in their conversions!

Converting Fractions to Decimals and Percents