The Exchange Game

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The Exchange Game
Math - Introduction to the Decimal System
Exchange Game 3.JPG
Age4 - 5
PrerequisitesThe Exchange Tray
Materialsfull set of Golden Beads

This activity shows the child that when quantities are organized it is much easier to see how much you have.
It also gives the child practice in exchanging.


  1. Lay out a rug with two small bowls for counting unit beads
    Exchange Game 1.JPG
  2. Take the child to the bead cabinet and start filling a tray with a random amount of units, tens, hundreds, and thousands.
    Take the tray to the mat. "What a mess! I wonder how many beads we have here."
    Exchange Game 2.JPG Exchange Game 3.JPG
  3. Sort the beads into piles by place value.
    Exchange Game 4.JPG
  4. Start counting the units.
    Exchange Game 5.JPG
  5. When you get to 10 units, have the child exchange them for 1 ten bar.
    Place this ten bar with the others.
    Exchange Game 6.JPG Exchange Game 7.JPG
  6. Count the remaining units (if there are any).
    Exchange for ten bars if needed unit until there are fewer the ten units left.
    Exchange Game 8.JPG Exchange Game 9.JPG
  7. Start counting the tens.
    Exchange Game 10.JPG
  8. When you get to ten have the child exchange these for 1 hundred square.
    Place this with the other hundred squares. Exchange again if needed until you have fewer than 10 ten bars.
    Exchange Game 11.JPG Exchange Game 12.JPG
  9. Start counting the hundreds.
    Exchange Game 13.JPG
  10. When you get to 10 hundreds, have the child exchange them for 1 thousand cube.
    Place this thousand cube with the others. Exchange again if needed until you have fewer than 10 hundreds.
    Exchange Game 14.JPG Exchange Game 15.JPG
  11. Allow the child to see how easy it is to tell how much you have after exchanging.
    Exchange Game 16.JPG

Points of Interest

  • having a chaotic mixed-up amount of beads at the beginning

Control of Error

There will be fewer than 10 in each pile

Variations and Extensions


Where to Buy

see Golden Beads

Further Reading