# Coin Identification

Music Therapy coin identification videos & songs for special needs individuals.
Goal: Client will receptively identify four United States coins (quarter, dime, nickel, and penny) from a field of four.

Early in my music therapy career, I attempted to use a ubiquitous coin song to teach students about money:

A penny I know is brown.
A nickel is smooth and fat.
A dime is small and a quarter is big.
These are the coins I know.

No one ever seemed to get the nickel… and of course they didn’t. Size was used to describe the nickel, dime, and quarter, but the size for the dime and quarter were the diameters, whereas the “fat” size of the nickel was its height or thickness. You can’t even see this thickness (or fat) of the nickel unless you pick up the coin. Even then the thickness of a nickel is 1.95 mm as compared to the 1.75 mm thickness of the quarter. The “smooth” adjective is another attribute difficult to notice without picking up a nickel. Plus the circumference of the penny is also smooth. Other common songs were even less helpful:

See the shiny penny, brown as it can be.
Showing Abraham Lincoln for all of us to see.
He had a bushy beard, and a tall, black hat.
A penny’s worth one cent, how about that.

Even if your student knows what Abraham Lincoln looks like, they are only going to see his face 50% of the time, when the penny is heads up. Adding the coin values to the physical description of the coins is just too much information. Identifying coin values works better as a separate activity tackled only after coin identification has been mastered. Here’s my solution:

Quarter is big.
Dime is small.
Nickel is medium.
Penny is brown.

The quarter, dime, and nickel are all described by their comparative sizes (their diameters) which you can clearly see as coins are lying on a desk without the need to pick them up. The quarter comes first because A. “big” is the easiest adjective for kids to identify and B. the quarter is the most valuable and, therefore, the most important coin. You can actually use quarters in vending machines, laundromats, arcade games, and to get a shopping cart at Aldi. The “small” dime is next. After big and small have been established, “medium” can be used to describe the nickel. Most children will be familiar with “medium” from food purchases: sodas, french fries, pizzas, ice cream… all the good stuff. The penny comes last and is usually easiest because it is the only coin of a different color.

The project you see here is an updated version of videos I made over ten years ago. The original videos only showed the heads sides of the coins. I came to find that some students had trouble identifying coins when they were tails up – they were not using the sizes, they were using the pictures. This can be problematic. An alternate picture of Thomas Jefferson began being used on nickels in 2006. (Old and new coins are currently in circulation.) The heads up sides of the penny and quarter were resigned in 2010. The tail sides of quarters are a potpourri of pictures representing states and national parks. The only attributes that don’t seem to change are the coins’ sizes and colors.

Each coin is given its own video. First, all four coins are sung and displayed heads up. Then the targeted coin is singled out and paired with its adjective (big, small, medium, or brown). The student has four opportunities to identify the named coin from a field of four heads up coins. The whole process is then repeated tail side up for a total of eight opportunities to identify each coin. Once the individual coin videos are mastered, there is a fifth video that tests knowledge of all four coins.

These videos can be used independently by students. There is ample time given (almost ten seconds) on each opportunity to touch the correct coin. Before the next attempt, the incorrect coins fade away and the correct coin remains on the screen. If your child is struggling, a song (instead of a video) along with a smaller field of real coins can be used. If your child is excelling, a fill-in-the-blank song can be used to mix up the coin order or to have your student sing the coin names and their corresponding adjectives.

• 5 videos [mp4 video files]
• Coin Identification 1 (quarter)
• Coin Identification 2 (dime)
• Coin Identification 3 (nickel)
• Coin Identification 4 (penny)
• Coin Identification 5 (all)
• 6 songs [mp3 audio files]
• Coin Identification 1 (quarter)
• Coin Identification 2 (dime)
• Coin Identification 3 (nickel)
• Coin Identification 4 (penny)
• Coin Identification 5 (all)
• Coin Identification 6 (fill-in-the-blank)
• 5 lyrics [PDF]
• Coin Identification 1 (quarter)
• Coin Identification 2 (dime)
• Coin Identification 3 (nickel)
• Coin Identification 4 (penny)
• Coin Identification 5 (all)
• 5 lyrics & chords [PDF]
• Coin Identification 1 (quarter)
• Coin Identification 2 (dime)
• Coin Identification 3 (nickel)
• Coin Identification 4 (penny)
• Coin Identification 5 (all)