Start with a seven compartment tray- six compartments around the edge and one in the middle.
Fill one space with pennies, one with nickels, the next with dimes, then quarters, half-dollars, a dollar coin, and one die in the middle. The youngest child rolls the die first and picks up that many pennies. Children take turns rolling the die and picking up coins. I use an equivalence book, made from the coin stamps, to assist the children in exchanging coins. The little equivalence booklet is kept in the middle compartment with the die. After some time, when children roll a five or a six, they realize they can immediately pick up a nickel instead of five pennies. The children keep exchanging all the way up until they receive two half-dollars. At this point, that winning child can exchange for the dollar coin. After the game, I show the children how to shake hands and say "good game". Due to the caring nature of the Montessori classroom, children feel comfortable both winning and losing. They are then asked to wash their hands, after handling the coins.
With 2-3 children playing, this game can take up to 30 minutes. Younger children stop by from time to time to observe, but I think they realize it's a bit over the top for them. This game is ideal for children ages 5-9, although some four year olds have been known to master the game.
This activity is another excellent opportunity for community in the classroom. If I'm unavailable and the children have an equivalence question, they can go to an older child for help. The older child feels a sense of confidence and belonging when he/she is able to helpa younger friend in need. That's the beauty of the Montessori classroom.