Cleaning Money: Sensory Science Activity

This activity kept my kids happy and playing for well over half an hour! It was so easy to set-up. All we needed was some white vinegar, a couple tablespoons of salt and some coins. For my sanity, we used a few bowls and towels as well to contain the mess.

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First the kids dipped their rags into the vinegar and salt, then they scrubbed the coins. It was fun to watch the acid from the vinegar remove the dirt, grime and corrosion – those pennies really began to shine! The kids were curious as to why the dishrags were turning green and we had fun discussing how metals like copper break down and their rust is a bright blue/green.

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My son is always the pragmatic one. He figured out that it was quicker to get the coins clean if you soaked them for a few minuets in the vinegar before you dry them off. His hands smelled really “pickled” but he had a blast!

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After we were done, we counted our coins, discussed the differences between pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters. We compared piles of coins – which pile was worth more? Which pile had more physical coins? Which pile was the brightest? etc. I noticed that we had several coins from the 1940s and 50s in our pile! I was amazed at how long they had been in circulation.

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If my kids were a tad bit older I would have had them graph the dates the coins were minted, and put the quarters on a map of the states, matching the back of the quarter with it’s corresponding state. Maybe we would have even played a money growth game.   Alas, that was a bit much for my two and three year old preschoolers.

18 Comments

  1. Great idea! I’m going to do that this afternoon after nap time. I’ve a 19 month old and 3-1/2 year old. I think the older one will love this!
    .-= Candi´s last blog ..RECIPE: Swedish Meatballs =-.

  2. great idea here–my kids are obsessed with money, playing with money, and so I think they will LOVE cleaning money! It’s our plan for tomorrow!

    And I tried to contact you via your ‘contact’ button but it’s a little funny and wouldn’t go to your email. Thanks for asking about featuring me. I’m totally flattered!

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  3. What a fantastic idea! We did a money sorting activity recently and this would’ve been the perfect thing to add in advance of the activity!

  4. Great Idea!! Nothing like a shiny new penny.

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  5. I love this idea! WE might just have to try this at our house. My kids would love it.
    .-= Ticia´s last blog ..How we budget =-.

  6. I didn’t know it was this easy to clean money. Thanks for sharing this great idea! I am looking forward to trying it on my own.

  7. Really great technique.
    Its really innovative the way you are cleaning the coins.

  8. For a much more pleasant smell you may chose to use reconstituted lemon juice. I use salt and just a little of this, and the tarnish from my kitchen copper seems to jump away from the surface with very little effort.

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