These activities integrate math, social studies, art, language arts, and science. When learning about money with Pre-K children, I recommend using real coins rather than play coins. I make sure the children understand that they cannot keep the money-- it is for learning activities only.
Just a Piggy Bank, by Mercer Mayer
Bunny Money, by Rosemary Wells
Coin County, by Jim Talbot
Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst
If You Made a Million, by David M. Schwartz & Steven Kellogg
The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money, by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Piggy Bank, from Greg & Steve, We All Live Together, Vol. 3
Activities for Small Group or Centers:
List: Have a class discussion about the purposes of money (food, toys, clothing, charity, etc.) Make a list on chart paper.
Money Toss: Toss five pennies onto a math mat (use piggy bank clipart to make a math mat). Count the heads and tails.
Candy Store: Use craft pom-poms for the candy. Each child has a small jar filled with "candy". Make money cards by hot-gluing real pennies to posterboard pieces or adding coin stickers to index cards. Children draw a card and "purchase" the same amount of gumballs by taking them from the jar. Play until the jar is empty.
Buried Treasure: Bury coins in the sand table. Children dig to find them, and sort them into a sorting tray.
Treasure Chests: Buy mini wooden treasure chests from a craft store. Hot-glue coins (penny, nickel, dime, quarter) on a chest (one coin on each chest). Children sort the coins by placing them in the correct treasure chest. Or, write a number on the chest and have the children count the same amount of coins into the chests.
Magnets & Magnifyers: Let children explore with coins and magnets, and coins and magnifying glasses.
Coin Rubbing: Hot-glue several coins onto posterboard sheets. Children lay thin paper on top and clip it with clothespins to hold the paper it place. Use the flat side of a crayon to rub over the paper and make an impression of the coins.
Flip Graph: Flip a coin and graph the heads & tails.
Quarter Stacking: Roll a die and stack that amount of quarters. Continue until the stack falls.
Patterns: Make patterns with coins. For example, heads, tails, heads, tails; or, penny, nickel, penny, nickel.
Size Ordering: Put the coins in order by size from smallest to largest (dime, penny, nickel, quarter).
Dominoes: Make dominoes by cutting rectangular pieces of posterboard and hot-gluing different coin combinations. Draw a dividing line in the middle. Children play dominoes in the usual way, matching the coins.
Store: Label the play food from the housekeeping center with price tags and give the children purses or wallets with coin money. The price tags should either be labeled with a numeral with children using only pennies, or labeled with various coin stickers with children matching the real coins to the coins on the sticker tags.
Snack Bar: If you serve snack in your classroom, buy several types of individually wrapped snacks. Put them in separate boxes, labeled with a price (or on a shelf, labeled with a price). Give the children wallets or ziplock bags with pennies, and allow them to "buy" their snack.
Ice Cream Shop: Set up an ice cream shop using large craft pom-poms for the scoops of ice cream, and use bowls, spoons, and ice cream scoops. Make a price list on a chart, showing how much the ice cream costs. Children use pennies to "buy" ice cream at the shop. Some children will be customers and some will be employees.
Buy a Letter: Children make a name bracelet with letter beads. Give each child the same amount of pennies. Each letter bead costs 1 cent. Children buy the letters to spell their name. Have them count the letters in their name, then count out the amount of pennies they will need. You can also use letter stickers to stick on paper instead of making a bracelet.
Coin Cleaning: Have the children bring in "dirty" pennies from home. Set out various ingredients on the table: vinegar, salt, and ketchup, along with some ingredients that will not clean pennies well (such as water, flour, etc.) Let the children experiment with the materials to find what cleans pennies the best. Encourage them to mix some ingredients. (Vinegar and salt together will clean pennies, and ketchup by itself will clean them.)