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Lockdown Day 90 – Introduction to SA Money

Numeracy and Arithmetic

We are staying with the requirements for the Grade R-aged children from our national curriculum statement today. One of the requirements for Maths is that children should be given an awareness of South African money. This is a lesson that can give rise to many cross-curricular learning opportunities.

You may need to start this conversation with your child by discussing why we have money! Where does it come from? This can be quite an in-depth discussion, so you will have to gauge this given the age and critical thinking stage of your child.

MONEY is a medium of exchange that can be used to pay for goods and services and to measure the value of things. CURRENCY is a term for a specific country’s money in circulation.

Let’s start with MONEY.

We want or need something. To get the something that we want or need, we have to pay for it. In order to pay for it, we need money! Where does money come from? We have to earn it. How do we earn it? We work for it.

This is quite a complex concept for children to learn. They see us going into a shop, putting various items in the trolley and basket and taking it home. They very often cannot understand why we just cannot put the R2000 Lego set that they ‘need’ into the trolley at the same time. We say that we cannot afford the Lego set. What does this mean?

All the work that we have been doing over the Maths lockdown tips is laying the foundation for the child to start to understand the concepts of quantity, more than, less than and equal to. You might not have thought about it, but that is what we do every day. We go to the shop with a finite amount of money at our disposal. When we put things into the trolley, we know that whatever we buy must be less than, or equal to, the amount of money that we have available for this shop. If the value of the shop is more than the money that we have, it will cause a problem at the check-out!

The first step, therefore, is to have a discussion with the child about how money is earned, where it goes (to the bank for safekeeping), and how it can be spent (cash or card). Children may also be interested in exploring how the shops get to have goods! Where do they get them from? They also have to buy them from the manufacturers who in turn have to buy the raw materials from the suppliers thereof, who have to pay the workers to produce them and so on.

Once the child has a beginning understanding of the use of money, we can introduce the concept of currency.


Every country has its own currency, its own ‘paper and coin’ money. South Africa’s currency is called the RAND. This name of our currency comes from the place where our first gold deposits were mined – the WitwatersRAND.

South Africa’s currency is split into Rands and cents. 100 cents make up 1 Rand.

When introducing the child to money, we would suggest that you start with full numbers. This is what the child already knows. The child should ideally have an understanding of the quantities and numerals of 1 to 100.

Introducing cents should wait until a little later. Consider that understanding the value of 50 cents needs the child to understand that this is half of 1 Rand. Although the value of the quantity is less than 1, its number (50) is higher. The child needs to first understand that a whole number can be broken into various parts or fractions before really understanding the cents concept.


Our money comes in different shapes and sizes of metal and in paper. Different units of money have different values that can be used to pay for different things. Size does not tell us the value of the money – it is the denomination of the money that matters. As adults, we take this for granted, this is however what can prove problematic for children.

In today’s lesson, let us start with one R10 note, two R5 coins, five R2 coins and ten R1 coins. The child should be able to recognise the numerals 10, 5, 2, and 1.

  • Place one of each denomination in front of the child. Tell the child that is this is some of South Africa’s currency. This is most likely also going to be the money that the child needs to know given that s/he will likely not have access to any denominations greater than R10 at this age (from pocket money or the tooth-money-giver)!
  • Start with R1. Show the child where to find the numeral that denotes that this coin’s value is R1. Have a look at the other markings on this coin. Discuss them. This is a good opportunity for cross-curricular learning. Our currency has people, animals, crests and other symbols on it. Use your ‘I wonder why’ questions to inspire the child’s thinking and spend some time later finding the answers.
  • Repeat this with the other coins and the R10 note.
  • Leave the R10 note on the table and bring forward the ten R1 coins. Ask the child to count the R1 coins. The child will count that there are ten. You can then ask the hold these ten R1 coins in their hand. Discuss that these are a little cumbersome to hold. They could easily lose a coin. Explain that this is why paper money (notes) were created. Instead of having to use ten R1 coins, we can rather just have one R10 note. The value is the same. 10 x 1 Rand coins is EQUAL TO the R10 note.
  • Play around with the R1 coins by asking the child to pay you certain amounts of money. For example: Please give me R7. The child will need to count seven R1 coins.
  • Once the child is familiar with the R1 coins, place the R10 at the top of the table and ask the child to lay the ten R1 coins out in a row beneath the note. Now use the skills learned in lockdown tip #83 and ask the child to group the R1 coins into sets of two coins. There will be five sets of two coins. Bring forward the five R2 coins and show the child how we can replace two R1 coins with one R2 coin. The child will discover that ten R1 coins is the same as five R2 coins which is the same as one R10 note! Use the terminology EQUAL TO again.
  • Then ask the child to go back to laying the R1 coins in a row and ask the child to make two sets of five R1 coins and show the child how R10 can also be made up with two R5 coins. Again reinforce EQUAL TO.
  • Give the child a fair amount of time to assimilate these concepts.

Next week, we will delve further into these explorations of money!


Find all of our lockdown tips here –