Old Fashioned Money–Beads

We recently had lots of fun tying math in with our history lesson. It came at just the right time for us too, because two oldest kids were tired of their math books and I was looking for some ways to use some things around the house to teach math concepts and give them a bit of a break from the pencil and paper math books. Then while we were going through our Hands and Hearts kit on early American life, we found a whole section in the manual about how beads were used for trading with the Indians. It told which colors were more valuable. So we set out to do some monetary math with beads.

JD Boy just separated his according to color and counted how many of each color that he had. It was actually quite a tedious job.

JD Boy sorting beads

Zippy sorted hers according to color, then wrote down how many she had of each color and then looked in the guide that was in our kit for how to calculate the value of her beads. I can’t remember what each bead was worth. I just remember that blue beads were the most valuable.

Zippy Counting & Sorting Beeds

Even G’tums wanted to join in, so we pulled out some plastic beads out of our craft box and let him sort by colors. But unfortunately I don’t have a picture of that.

What fun we had! As you can see, we were also enjoying our math/history lesson outside. Ah, bliss! Wish we could do that everyday.

Eventually we’ll turn these beads into crafts, but it couldn’t have been more fun to turn a history lesson into a math lesson. For once my daughter thought math was actually fun. Now I’m off to find some more fun ways of teaching math.

One thought on “Old Fashioned Money–Beads

  • April 23, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Dear Praying Mom,

    While I'm away from home at the staff retreat I'm reading a book written by a Wycliffe Bible translator. She was telling about litte sea shells that the native people used for money. They had no idea it was free for the taking from the beach because they were some days journey inland over tortuous mountain paths on foot. The people highly valued those shells and wore their money around their neck like necklaces.


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