I counted that stack of bills while DJ was at soccer and it occurred to me that we could use his Golden Bead material to count it and see how much it was.

(For the record, I took all these pictures after we were done, re-creating the task for you. I did not use the equal sign or plus sign with DJ as these are not taught until he is ready to do abstract math (ie in his head/on paper).

First, I wanted to be sure he understood what $1 is worth. At the community yard sale today, DJ had found another vendor selling new matchbox cars for $1 each and he loved the digger so much, he bought it with money I gave him. So before we started counting, I showed him that each dollar was the same as a digger.

Next we counted out the dollar bills, putting 1 unit bead in the cup for each dollar. When we got to 10, I had him count the beads in the cup. He confirmed there were 10 beads so I explained to him at this point we could exchange the 10 individual beads for a 10-bar.

We continued counting $1 bills, putting a bead in the cup for each one. When we reached ten again, we exchanged the beads for a second 10-bar.

At that point I only had 2 more dollar bills so we put 2 beads in the cup giving us 2 tens and 2 units.

We put the dollars, 2 tens and 2 units to the top of our workspace and started counting $5 bills. I showed one to DJ and asked him how much it was worth. He recognized the number and said "five" so I had him count 5 beads into the cup. I then set out a second 5 and he counted 5 more beads. At that point I suggested he count the beads in the cup and he counted to 10. I asked him what do we do when we get to 10 and be immediately did the exchange.

We had a lot of $5 bills so this part got really tedious. I took over counting out the beads for each bill and DJ did the exchange to 10-bars each time we got to ten beads.

We placed the 10-bars from the $5 bills at the top with the two 10-bars from the $1 bills. Then we counted the $10 bills. Again, I asked DJ to look at the bill and tell me what it said. He recognized that it said ten. I asked him if it was 10 dollars what should we do. At first he started to count out beads, but I asked him, "What do we do when we have 10 of something?" He caught on and grabbed a 10-bar.

We only had a single $10 bill so we added that 10-bar to the 10-bars from the one's and five's and discovered there were ten of them. I asked DJ what we should do when we have 10 tens. This is where he stumbled. We haven't completely finished the steps where he would become really familiar with the concept of hundred & thousand so he didn't know the answer to my question. I took out a hundred square and laid the ten 10-bars on top of it, reminding him that ten tens is one hundred. Then he did the exchange, placing the 10-bars back in the store and keeping the hundred square.

We placed the hundred square at the top and left a space for no tens before the cup with 2 units. Next I showed him a $20 bill. Again he recognized that it said "2-tens" (he doesn't know the word twenty yet). I asked him what we should take for 2-tens and he began to look for something between the 10-bars and hundreds in the store. Haha. I nearly laughed but I stopped myself and had him count out two 10-bars. Once he saw it, he immediately understood.

He then counted out two 10-bars for each $20 bill in the stack. When we reached ten 10-bars, I asked him to count them. This time he remembered that 10 tens is 1 hundred so he did the exchange.

We counted 5 more $20 bills, laying out two 10-bars for each one and then exchanging for another hundred square.

I had one more $20 so we were left with 2 hundreds and 2 tens.

We placed the result from the 20's at the top with the rest that we had counted. The last bill we had was a single $50 bill. DJ recognized the number on the bill as "5-tens" and this time, he counted out five 10-bars right away.

We added the five 10-bars to the pile and then began counting our final quantity. We had 3 hundred squares, so I asked DJ to get the number card that said three-hundred. We counted seven 10-bars, so DJ found the card that says seven-tens. And we counted 2 units so DJ laid out the 2 card.

Finally, I placed the cards together to reveal our final quantity. "Three hundred seventy two dollars."

DJ was really impressed with the number but I was equally impressed that he stayed with me through all of the counting. This is a boy who will outright ignore me if he is not interested, so having the patience to count through all those beads tells me that these numbers really intrigue him!

Finally, for full disclosure, if you were counting along in the pictures you know that we actually have only $362 and we made a $10 error somewhere around the five's. I'm not surprised because that was a lot of beads to count! But I also didn't mention it. At this stage, DJ only needs to learn the process and not be concerned if the total is completely accurate.

So there you have it, Golden Bead material used to count hundreds of dollars at 3 years old when you only know how to count to ten.

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