Eggcellent Activities: Coin Eggs

The calendar says it’s spring, and the weather is starting to feel like spring (though those of us native to Michigan know better than to trust it yet), and that has me thinking about spring things. It’s also tax season, and that has me thinking about money and how much practice my students need with American coins.

The coins of the USA are very different from many other countries in many ways, but the one that trips my students up the most often is their size. Many countries create coins proportionate to their value: the larger the coin, the more it is worth. Here in the USA, the size means nothing in relation to its value, and in fact it gets confusing at times: a quarter is the largest commonly used coin, and the highest value of the commonly used coins; but the dime, which is the second largest value commonly used coin, is the smallest of the coins. And then we name the coins! It’s not enough to simply call them a five-cent-piece, or ten-cent-piece; nope, each coin has to have a separate name that may or may not (and let’s be honest, it’s more often not in the four most common coins) be related to its value. Thus, my immigrant students need a lot of practice with coins!

I have several activities I use plastic eggs for, including Eggcellent Contractions, but today I want to focus on my coin egg center. I originally used this as an assessment at the end of a unit on American money, but it also makes for a great center/practice activity.


To create your own coin eggs, you’ll need a few things:

  • plastic eggs (12-18 for each set, I used 12)
  • an egg carton (1 for each set)
  • plastic coins (I used only penny, nickel, dime, and quarter for my center)
  • a recording sheet (you’re welcome to download and use mine, it’s free)

You’ll want to make one set of coin eggs for every 3-4 students. One way to avoid having to make multiple sets is to use this as a center activity. The danger of this is some students (especially younger students) aren’t always very adept at getting all of the coins back into the correct egg and this can cause issues for students who follow them.

Set Up:

Set up for this activity is fairly easy. Number each of the eggs 1-12 (or 1-18), a Sharpie marker works great for this. Then place coins of various denominations into each egg. I chose to keep the total of each of my eggs under $1, but that was a pure choice. You can make the totals as high, or low, as you need for your own students. Finally, create a recording sheet for students to use as they work on the activity. As I mentioned above, my recording sheet is available for free, and you are welcome to download and use it. If you want students to practice the names of the coins, as well as finding the total, be sure to tell them to record both on their sheets.


As I mentioned earlier, I originally used this activity as an assessment at the end of a unit about money in the USA. My student desks/tables were in groups of 4, so I gave each group one set of eggs and the required number of recording sheets. It was an easy way for me to check their understanding of coin name vocabulary, as well as their ability to add coin values (these were all beginner level ELLs who had limited or interrupted formal educational {SLIFE} backgrounds). If you prefer not to use the activity as an assessment, it does make an excellent center activity. Place 1-2 sets of eggs in your center along with recording sheets. Students are able to complete the activity and leave their recording sheet in a designated location for you to check later.


What I particularly like about this activity is the use of the plastic coins. It allows students to get used to the different sizes and colors of the coins, something that is hard to do with black and white pictures on a worksheets. The tactile manipulatives also helped my students to practice skills such as sorting the coins by value first, making finding a total easier. Did this add a bit of extra work for me? Yes, I had to source the coins, and I also have to check the various sets after each use to be sure the coins are back in the correct eggs, but the work is minimal (especially since my recording sheet key has the names of the coins present in each egg on it) and I think the benefits outweigh the extra effort required.

My students’ reaction to the activity? They all said it didn’t feel at all like taking a test, and they all performed better on their standardized assessments that spring. All in all, it is a quick and easy to put together activity that yields good results. Give it a try and see how it works with your students. Happy teaching, everyone!

Need more practice activities for USA coins? Maybe one of these will be what you’re looking for: