How Does Play Money Cost So Little?

Hello all,

If you were ever forced to make play money coins at home with sheer ingenuity but while muttering under your breath for choosing to do it, you will understand that each denomination costs $4.50 for a bag of 100 if you purchase it online. Today I had a 1p.m. appointment with a 6th grader that was expecting to count money during her lesson. It was my second lesson for her, and I determined that I would provide play money by cutting paper coins and cutting cardboard circles to match the coins and staple them together. I tore the front cover off of a notebook to have cardboard. It was stifling hot. I sat underneath my open window with the ceiling fan blowing on me. Unbleached cotton the color of wedding cake syrup for snow balls covers my windows and for awhile, it was pleasant in the room. But as lunchtime and the appointment hour approached, I began to consider how much time I was spending cutting and stapling materials. I decided at 11:00 that I would go to the dollar store and undoubtedly find a $1 box of play coins. I silently reproached myself for having gathered and cut materials to do such a tedious task. There weren’t any coins at the dollar store or the big market. I began to feel a conflict arising. I would have to finish the coins and knew that I felt piqued by such repetitious behavior. I also felt a little embarrassed that the play coins naturally could be bought for a low price, but I had chosen to assume the task.

When I checked the price online, I found bags of 100 of dimes, nickels, pennies, and quarters for $4.50 each. How much are 20 of each? My search so far had not revealed them sold in quantities of 20. If I charged $12.00 (although I didn’t charge the student for making them) for constructing 100 coins, it would cost someone paying me to construct these coins a minimum of $24.00! However, those that I saw online would cost $18.00 for 400 coins and four different denominations, and they are plastic! I was just wondering if they had made these coins originally in the early 1900s when laborers were paid .25 an hour. The metal stamp process in mass production began and is how play money can come so cheaply.

Other than abacuses, what did students have to learn to count with if not homemade coins? Besides the repetition, the electric bill cost, unfinished work when my student arrived, and going possibly without lunch had me fretting. I finished, and we had fun conducting business sales while we met. I sold her things around us, named a price, and she counted the play money to pay me.

Working for the weekend,

Miss Carol


Automation of labor. It's just inefficient to cut out individual coins. But if you build a template first with the right dimensions like a cookie cutter, you could stamp out literally a hundred in a matter of seconds. Just a thought!


Carol E.

Skilled Math, Test Prep, Reading, and Writing Tutor

1750+ hours
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