Activity 2: Early Australian money

This activity focuses on the introduction of Australian banknotes and coins and the relationship between these.

Explain to students that a long time ago people from other countries sailed to Australia on voyages of exploration and trade. They brought money from their countries. Although this is not generally covered until later years of schooling some students might know about the early explorers .

Ask students to contribute to a collection of banknotes and coins from other countries, especially from Asian countries. Students could also bring older Australian banknotes from the previous series. Discuss the banknotes and coins comparing them with current Australian banknotes and coins.

Identify similarities and differences

Discuss similarities and differences between the current Australian banknotes and coins and other banknotes and coins in the collection. Consider:

  • shape
  • colour
  • images
  • text
  • size
  • material
  • security features
  • other interesting features.

You could show the class the Money Map timeline and discuss some entries.

The introduction of Australian banknotes

Bring to the classroom two bags: one bulging with coins and the other with a banknote of a higher denomination than the coins. Ask the students to hold the bags and tell you which one they think has the most money and why they think this.

Count the coins to show that the weight and bulk of the money is no longer a measure of the amount of money.

Discuss why people might have been suspicious of new banknotes that were made of paper rather than metals when they were first introduced.

Talk with the students about the difficulties of using big bundles of coins for shopping and everyday activities. Discuss how banknotes can provide a solution.

Play a game of Exchange it

Prepare to play Exchange it by:

  • using a hundred square, a number line with intervals of 10, MAB blocks or other suitable concrete materials, to practise counting by tens. Draw students' attention to the fact that adding 10 always ends in same final digit, for example 10, 20, 30, 40….
  • sorting concrete materials into bundles of 10 and counting by bundle (counting by 10)
  • introducing or reviewing place value for 10, 20, 50 and 100 in particular.

Organise students to play Exchange it using one or more of the following:

  • exchange it (NOTEBOOK 1MB) (instructions on green tab on the Notebook page).
  • printable Exchange it board game ( PDF 200KB). You will need to make a copy for each player and cut out the grid and the coin and banknote cards.