Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Windows and Mirrors: A Program about Diversity for Grades 4-5

Activity 5: Penny Game

Activity time: 5 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Small bags containing different numbers of pennies for all participants, plus a few extra

Preparation for Activity

  • Prior to the session, prepare for each child a small bag containing four, five or six pennies. Make extra for visitors or newcomers.
  • Practice the game with adults or by yourself to get a sense of the underlying mathematics.

Description of Activity

Hand each child a small bag containing the pennies. Say:

In this game, you will go around and give your pennies away to different people. When someone gives you a penny, you must give that person two pennies in return. Let's see what happens.

Play for three to five minutes. Then call "time" and ask what happened. See who has the most and who has the least pennies.

After comparing who has the most pennies and who has the least, ask if there were any children who initially took pennies without giving any in return. Ask them:

  • Did any of you give only one penny away?
  • Did any of you give more than two pennies away?
  • What did you enjoy more, giving the pennies away or getting them?

Ask children if they are surprised that the person who gives away the most gets the most. Invite them to compare the game with real life:

  • Do you know when your parents are being generous?
  • Do you know if your family gives money away to charity or the congregation?
  • What are the risks and rewards of generosity?
  • Is it better to err on the side of giving away your privilege? Why, or why not?

Including All Participants

Be mindful of inclusion in this game. Make sure every person is approached to give and receive pennies. Be mindful of accessibility issues and be prepared to make the room accessible for someone who may difficulty walking around exchanging pennies.