Coin Activities for Kids

Examples of coin activities for occupational therapy- dropping coins into a slotted container, counting money, stacking coins.

These coin activities are fun ways to develop fine motor skills AND functional money skills. The fact is that coin sorting activities and counting coins activities are functional…they are tasks kids need to develop for daily living skills. But, did you ever stop to think about the fine motor benefits of playing with coins? There are a handful! So, grab a handful of coins and use these coin activities to help kids with fine motor skill development!

Examples of coin activities for occupational therapy- dropping coins into a slotted container, counting money, stacking coins.

Coin Activities

This is an older blog post on the website, but one that has so many fine motor activities using just coins. You’ll find coin sorting activities, coin rubbing art, money counting skills, and counting coin activities that build math and money skills as well as fine motor skills.

But, I also wanted to go into detail on the various ways kids can use a stack of coins to develop skills needed for fine motor tasks.

You may have seen a previous blog post detailing the use of plastic gold coins to develop fine motor skills…today’s article covers real coins you have in your purse or pocket, and can be used for teaching money to kindergarten or first grade students.

Coin activities for counting coins and sorting coins as an occupational therapy tool and a functional task for kids as they use money in IADLs.

Coin Sorting Activity

A warm-up activity with sorting coins is a nice start to the therapy session because it can help to connect with the child and that they are engaged in the process, using a functional task that is needed for IADLs.

Stack Coins Fine Motor Activity

A nice warm-up to an occupational therapy session is this coin sorting activity: Once we’ve said hello and I have checked in with how my client is doing its time to ‘show me the money’.

Place a pile of coins on the desk, and spend some time sorting coins into piles. I ask the child to show me the coins that match and we discuss what pictures we can see on the coins, what numbers we can see and how much the coins are worth.

Sorting coins is a great task to work on a variety of skills:

Sort Coins by Touch

Once we have looked through all our coins I ask the children to place the coins in a pile in front of them and close their eyes. With their eyes closed they must pick a coin and show me which one they have collected.

This activity targets Stereognosis, or the touch awareness related to identifying coins by touch, or by determining the coin by “feel”. When you sort through coins, you can find a quarter vs a penny by feeling the size of the coin.

I have a list of corresponding whole body, gross motor exercises that they must perform depending on the coin they have selected. These exercises will target specific gross motor goals that we are working on.

The gross motor skills addressed with these coin sorting exercises include:

Grab this handout by entering your email address into the form at the bottom of this blog post.

Coin Activities for Fine Motor Skills

Once we are all warmed up and feeling focused and attentive, we are ready to work on our fine motor skills. One aspect of money counting skills that can be difficult for children is the fine motor component. These coin activities take into consideration, all of the fine motor skills needed for counting and sorting coins.

In-hand manipulation activities are a great way to boost fine motor skills needed for tasks like managing clothing fasteners, using a pencil when writing, manipulating items like coins or beads, and more. 

The dexterity that is worked on when picking up coins from a flat surface is huge!  You need to pick up the edges with a tip-to-tip grasp and perform in-hand manipulation to “squirrel away” the coin into the palm of the hand. 

In-hand manipulation is moving an object within the hand, without help from the other hand. This resource explains ways to work on in-hand manipulation with coins.

Stacking coins is another great exercise.  We put the quarters into piles and counted out dollars.  But at the same time, we were working on translation of the coin from the palm of the hand to the tips of the fingers.  

Translation is a type of in-hand manipulation that you use when moving an object from the finger tips to the palm and vice versa.  Stacking requires a lot of controlled dexterity!  

Stack coins for a fine motor workout and to improve coin sorting skills.

Why are these skills important? Kids need to refine their fine motor skills and in-hand manipulation in order to manipulate the pencil with slight movements while writing, erasing, and coloring. 

They need the small motor control to manage fasteners like zippers, snaps, buttons, and shoe tying

Using coins is a wonderful way to work on so many fine motor skills. You can target selective finger movements, tactile discrimination, in hand manipulation and finger strengthening

For these fine motor coin counting activities, ask the children to count out a certain number of coins. I have been working with the number range between 10 and 20 depending on the child’s age. 

  1. Use plastic coins to build fine motor skills– This blog post includes a free printable handout detailing coin activities. This is a great home exercise program for parents.
  2. Count coins. Use these ideas to work on counting money and building fine motor skills. You can also use a paper coin wrapper to count coins.
  3. Use coins to work on patterns and skip counting, but also finger isolation skills. This blog post includes a free handout to use in skip counting with coins.
  4. Coin road – line the coins up in a row as quickly as you can using only your right hand. The children enjoy competing with me during this task. Once completed ask them to perform this activity again using their left hand. 
  5. Coin flip – line the coins up in a row. Using only one hand flip each coin over starting at one end and flipping each coin until you reach the end of the row. Work from left to right to reinforce directionality. Repeat with the other hand.
  6. Coin stack – see how high you can stack your coins. Keeping going (and counting) until your stack falls over.
  7. Coin grab – using one hand see how many coins you can pick up and keep safe in your hand. Don’t drop any coins while you are collecting. 
  8. Coin counting – this requires a piggy bank or a parent to assist with making a simple money counting receptacle from a cardboard box or recycled container. See you many coins you can count within a time limit. 
  9. Playdough and coins – this activity requires the addition of playdough. Where this is available encourage children to make impressions of their coins with playdough, roll small balls of playdough and build coin sandwiches or roll snakes of playdough and stand coins in the roll to represent the scales. 
  10. Dice and coins – If your child has a dice available try the following activities. Roll the dice and see if you can pick up the number of coins the dice lands on. Roll the dice and set out your coins in the same position as the dots on the dice (re-create the dice number pattern).
  11. Coin Rolling– Practice rolling the edge of coins on a flat surface using fingers. This activity focuses on finger strength and dexterity.
Make coin rubbing art to work on learning coins, and building fine motor skills in kids.

Coin rubbing art

Coin rubbing art is a fine motor activity with huge benefits that you can add to your math art ideas. Rubbing the textures of coins onto paper builds so many fine motor skills: precision, bilateral coordination, pinch and grip strength, and eye-hand coordination skills.

To make a coin rubbing, you’ll need a few materials:

  • A handful of coins
  • Paper
  • Crayons
  1. First place the coins on a table. Be sure to place some coins heads side up, and others tails side up. This helps children to identify both sides of the coin.
  2. Place a piece of paper over the coins.
  3. Use the side of a crayon to rub the texture of the coin through the paper. The image of the coin will show up on the paper.

Work on holding the coin below the paper without moving the coin (bilateral coordination.

Work on rubbing the crayon at the “just right” level of pressure (proprioceptive input)

Read more about the benefits of coin rubbing art projects in this sight word crayon rubbing activity that we did.

Coin Activities for Visual Perception

An important part of money lesson plans is identifying different images on the coins, to enable counting and money use.

But, visually discriminating between coin size and images can be very difficult for some children. Then consider that each coin has a different “heads” side and a different “tails” side. Then, consider that there are different versions of each coin. In the U.S. for example, each state has it’s own version of the quarter. This can make coin counting very difficult for children with visual perceptual skill challenges.

Visual perception Coin sorting – this is a great way to work on visual discrimination. I ask my children to draw four or five circles on a piece of paper depending on the different denominations of the coins. Then we sort out pile of coins into the different denominations. Each circle is home to a certain denomination of coin.

The coin whole body movement exercises listed in the form below is a fantastic way to work on discriminating between coin differences. Sometimes adding movement to learning is a game changer, and this multi-sensory learning activity is sure to be a hit.

Coin activities for kids to improve fine motor skills, gross motor skills, pencil control, and visual discrimination.

Teaching Money to Children and Pencil control  

Finally, the following money activities incorporate the skill of pencil control. Right around kindergarten and first grade level, students are gaining more precision and finger dexterity with pencil control. Why not work on both coin sorting and coin identification AND pencil control for a doubled functional task?

Managing coins may even be a manual dexterity goal because it’s very functional and relevant.

Coin decorating – Ask your child to write their name in large letters and then place coins over each letter to decorate their name. This can be done with individual letters or numbers if you are working on number formation or letter formations

Coin race track – encourage your child to draw a race track. Use the coin as a car and demonstrate how to drive the car along the track using an individual finger. Each finger can have a turn to drive the car. 

Coin rubbings – place a few coins on the table and place a piece of paper over the coins. Rub over the coin with a crayon or pencil to produce the impression of the coin on the page.

Free coin exercises or learning money with multisensory learning.

More Activities for a Money Lesson Plan

Occupational therapists know the value of multisensory learning and this list of coin counting and sorting activities are sure to build knowledge and functional skills in children. For a whole-body, movement based resource on learning coins, grab this coin exercise handout.

Free Coin Sorting Exercises

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    Be sure to wash hands after manipulating coins!  And as always, keep a close eye on your child when coins are part of fine motor play to ensure safety.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

    What is Stereognosis?

    Examples of stereognosis- tying shoes, touch typing, braiding hair without looking, feeling for a light switch. Text reads "what is stereognosis"

    What is stereognosis anyway? This strange word sounds like a type of dinosaur or a new type of stereo. Stereognosis, or the ability to “see” with your hands, is an important skill you do not think much about, until you do not have it (astereognosis). Read on to find out more about stereognosis, what kind of patients are missing it, how to improve it, and its’ implication on functional performance.

    Examples of stereognosis- tying shoes, touch typing, braiding hair without looking, feeling for a light switch. Text reads "what is stereognosis"

    What is stereognosis? A clinical definition

    Stereognosis is the ability to identify and recognize the shape and form of a objects, by the sense of touch and without other sensory input. It’s a perceptual skill that allows us to identify common objects through tactile perception without the aid of vision.

    This ability is an integration of tactile sensory input, pressure, position, motion, texture, weight, and temperature.

    This skill is essential to daily tasks.

    Essentially, this ability is recognizing and knowing what an object is by touching it without seeing it. It is also known as haptic perception. Normally, your brain stores information about items you see and use and you draw on this stored memory to recognize items with other senses, such as touch.

    It’s interesting to look at the etymology of the word stereognosis because this helps understand the definition.

    The word “stereognosis” comes from the Greek word for for “stereo,” meaning solid, and “gnosis,” meaning knowledge.

    There is a difference between manual stereognosis, using the hands to identify and object, and oral stereognosis, using the mouth to do the same.

    “Manual stereognosis requires intact peripheral sensory pathways, namely the dorsal column-medial lemniscus tract (DCMLT), to receive discriminative touch and proprioceptive information. Receival of this information is necessary but not sufficient for stereognosis because it also requires functioning processing centers in the cortex of the parietal lobe.

    Stereognosis plays a role in everything we do on a daily basis. You can see the clinic importance in therapy interventions that support daily functional independence.

    Examples of Stereognosis

    It might be easier to explain this concept by sharing examples of how we use stereognosis every day.

    • We know that we haven’t lost our keys because we reach our hand in our pocket and feel them.
    • A student, while participating in a class lecture, reaches their hand into their backpack to grab a highlighter, feeling around the pocket to pull out the writing utensil
    • When driving, we reach for and press the correct lever to turn on the turn signal, radio buttons, or lights
    • The ability to reach into a dark room and find and turn on the light switch
    • Typing while looking at the computer screen
    • Knitting while watching television
    • Using a fork while talking to others at the dinner table
    • Identifying coins by touch

    Stereognosis is more than being able to rummage around your bag to find some gum. Everyday activities are a part of daily dressing tasks that use the sterognostic sense and tactile recognition:

    • Finding the armhole in your sweater
    • Locating the flashlight when the lights have gone out
    • Zipping the bottom of your jacket
    • Donning a bra, necklace, or styling the back of your hair
    • Buttoning your collar behind your neck 
    • Touch typing
    • Braiding your hair
    • Tying your shoes without looking at your hands
    • Tying a necktie
    • Buttoning a shirt without looking at your fingers
    • Texting or doing anything else with your hands while walking in line (stereognosis of the feet/body)

    You probably do tasks all day long by touch rather than looking at your hands and the objects you’re manipulating.

    The skill of stereognosis plays a huge role in processing speed, motor planning, and fine motor skills.

    To accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently, we can’t look at our hands all day and process what the object is, how to pick it up, and how to use the item. This is processing speed in action. Think about it this way: we could not function if we had to visually concentrate on the task of using objects all of the time.

    Part of this is having a visual picture in the mind’s eye of the object, the space, body awareness, and other concepts of spatial relationships. Also impacting this ability is proprioception.

    Neurologically speaking, this is pretty complex! The ability to conceptualize an object by touch uses experience and awareness in addition to the tactile sensory functions of light touch and pressure awareness.

    The neurological components at work include:

    • Dorsal column-medial lemniscus tract (DCMLT), which serves as the primary pathway for perceiving the size and shape of objects. Additionally, comprehension of how this information undergoes processing in the parietal cortex is crucial for a comprehensive understanding.
    • The first-order neurons of the DCMLT have cell bodies in dorsal root ganglia with peripheral processes extending out to sensory receptors (Pacinian corpuscles, Merkel cells, Golgi tendon organs, and muscle spindles) and central processes that enter the spinal cord in the large sensory fiber entry zone of the dorsal horn ascending ipsilaterally in the dorsal columns.” National Library of Medicine.

    stereognostic sense

    There’s a lot to the stereognostic sense than you might think…and that’s kind of how stereognosis works, right? It’s something you just don’t think about!

    I have not thought about Merkel cells and Golgi tendon organs since neurology class. That shows how useful this information has been in my clinical life. Plus, I can not imagine explaining “what is stereognosis” to a parent using terms like dorsal root ganglia or lemniscus!

    In short, we use terms that families can understand like touch and vision. Stereognosis is how you can reach into your purse and grab the Chapstick, or car keys without looking. You use your fingers to feel around and identify an object by its’ size, weight, texture, temperature, and other identifying parts (items sticking out, bumps).

    Until you have lost this sense (or never had it) you can not imagine how frustrating it can be for both patients and their caregivers. I can not tell you how many times I have asked my husband to just reach in and feel around for a wire, or plug something under the bed. He has very little ability to “feel” for things. I attribute this to the arthritis and thickening of the skin on his hands/fingers.

    A person can live without stereognosis, or the ability to sense an object without seeing it, however, life is less convenient and functional without this critical sense.


    When you have lost the sense (or never had it) of stereognosis, this is referred to as astereognosis. 

    A deficit in stereognosis means the individual must look at their hands as they do a task. When they visually monitor how their hands are moving in a task, the speed becomes very slow and purposeful.

    This description from the National Library of Medicine is a good way to explain this concept: “Astereognosis refers to the inability to perceive the form and identity of an object when physically manipulating it through active touch. By definition, astereognosis necessitates functioning peripheral sensory modalities (pain, temperature, fine touch, and vibration sense) and results from pathology within the central cortical integration of this sensory information. Astereognosis falls under a family of conditions called agnosias, which are classified based on the sensory modality involved (auditory, visual, or tactile). In this terminology, one should also be aware that the term tactile object agnosia is used interchangeably and is practically synonymous with astereognosis.”

    Astereognosis indicates that a patient is suffering from a lesion of the primary somatosensory cortex or somatosensory association area of the parietal lobe; this is commonly described as a cortical sensory loss. 

    In addition to damage to the parietal lobe, astereognosis can be found with damage to the following:

    • Nerves
    • Spinal cord
    • Brain stem
    • Thalamus 

    Many conditions precipitate astereognosis, including but not limited to

    • Cortical dementias
    • Cerebrovascular accident (CVA, or stroke)
    • Meningioma
    • Blood clots that affect the parietal lobe or brainstem
    • Cancer
    • Brainstem tumors
    • Multiple sclerosis, where your immune system attacks your nerves and causes problems with messages sent between your brain and body
    • Cerebral palsy, where your brain cannot send messages to your muscles
    • Head injuries, like a depressed skull fracture that causes a sunken skull
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Dementia
    Astereognosis is also referred to as tactile agnosia.

    Types of stereognosis

    There are two types of stereognosis, primary and secondary

    • Primary The primary type of astereognosis is when you cannot recognize the physical features of an object, such as its shape, texture, or size. 
    • Secondary astereognosis. In this type, your sense of touch might function well, so you can feel how big an object is or whether it is rough or smooth. But you cannot recognize what the object is. You can feel the dimensions and texture of the shape, but you cannot match the information stored in your brain to the object. 
    Example of a stereognosis test with form for common items like pencil, key, quarter, and description for items. Text reads "stereognosis tests for occupational therapy"

    How to test for stereognosis

    Therapists or physicians may perform a couple of tests to determine astereognosis, or tactile agnosia. The purpose of these tests is to evaluate a patient’s ability to identify common objects based on tactile properties.

    Tactile Object Recognition Test (TOR) is one of them. The examiner puts an object in your hand and asks you to identify the object with your eyes closed. They rate the level of impairment.

    In the Nottingham Sensory Assessment, the examiner presses objects against some parts of your body to see if you can feel light touch, pressure, or pin pricks. They can also test for temperature recognition. They can also move parts of your body around to see if you sense movement (proprioception). 

    The third test would be a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)to diagnose underlying conditions.

    You can see deficits in stereognosis in functional tasks, which can be part of clinical reasoning. One way to test for this would be to block a patient’s vision by using a file folder or curtain. Then place common objects such a a pencil, sunglasses, a key, nail, quarter, etc. into the palm of the hand. The patient is encouraged to manipulate the object as they name the item in their hand. If they can not name the item, they should describe the object’s properties.

    How to improve stereognosis

    The first line of defense in treating this condition is to treat the underlying condition. Some conditions are not curable as we know, but with the right therapy they can be improved. Knowing what the conditions are, and the symptoms is a great starting place.

    We are learning more and more about the brain’s fascinating capability to build new motor pathways after an injury.  Targeted practice is just one way to improve function.

    The great thing about any of the games below, is that similar games can be made from these ideas instead of purchasing them:

    • Mystery bag – fill a bag with different items. Ask students to put their hand in the bag and identify the item by touch alone. You can grade this activity by having a list of items that are in the bag or photos. We have an example of this mystery stocking game using a Christmas stocking to hold the items.
    • What’s in Ned’s Head (Amazon affiliate link) – this is a great stereognosis game! Students reach into Ned’s head to find the item pictured on their card. No peeking!
    • Touchy Feely game – Touchy Feely is a pop-up container that houses 26 different items with lots of different sensory attributes. There are figures like the Eiffel tower, fake animals like a mouse, crab and rubber duck, and all sorts of toys that could be bumpy, smooth, or prickly. Each item has a corresponding picture card.
    • Ruffs House Tactile doghouse game – kids reach in to match different textured dog bones
    • Tac Tiles– (Amazon affiliate link) This guess and feel game includes a bag and different tiles with textures to match. You can use this activity in many different ways.
    • Tickit Touch and Match Board – a classic tool for matching textures
    • Wooden Touch Recognition game– This is much like a DIY version of a “what’s in the bag” game, but the wooden pieces are shapes, which makes a great tactile discrimination activity. You then match the shapes to the pictures on the cards to target visual perceptual skills.
    • You can rotate themes like holidays, animals, shapes, or household items
    • Alphabet Mystery Box (Amazon affiliate link)- Players reach inside and discover fun miniatures of 26 letters of alphabet.
    For more information, check out this OT Toolbox article on the sensory aspect of touch or learn more about developing touch from the tactile archives.

    The human body is incredible!  It still amazes me that we are able to type without looking at the keyboard, play the piano, text, French braid our own hair, and thousands of other amazing things just by using our sense of touch.

    Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.