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Last Friday, my wife and two sons went to bed early. Or at least that’s what I thought. Reading a book and watching a playoff hockey game, I heard a loud “thump” coming from the room of our 5-year-old son, Will.

Investigating further, I found that Will had dumped the entire contents of his piggy bank – an oversized plastic bottle decorated with a University of Wisconsin logo – onto his bedroom floor, and was separating the coins into piles by size.

The hour being far past Will’s bedtime, I firmly instructed him to turn off the lights, get into bed and resume his project in the morning. He obliged.

At about 6 a.m. the next morning, the sound of rapid steps roused me. “Daddy, let’s keep counting my coins!” Will said. Also being the father of a 1-year-old, I looked at the clock and sighed, but on the inside I was beaming.

The boy is interested in coins. What a perfect convergence of work and family.

So we sat down on the floor, where Will announced that he was working on piles of “big coins,” quarters and nickels; “little coins,” dimes; “caramel coins,” pennies; and “cool coins,” foreign, elongated and wooden. We separated quarters and nickels, and proceeded to cover a wide variety of topics:

• The identity of the luminaries on the obverse of U.S. coinage.

• Guatemala, which my wife visited a decade ago, uses centavos as units of currency.

• The way vending and video game machines identify which coin has been inserted.

• As noted by the reverse of its state quarter, Texas is known as the Lone Star State.

• The smallest euro coins are really, really tiny.

• Nickels used to feature images of buffaloes.

• Travelers need passports to enter foreign countries (Will picked up a foreign mints passport book at the ANA show in Milwaukee two summers ago).

• Just because a coin is filthy with a significantly pockmarked rim, it is not necessarily valuable. Too bad for us.

At some point, our 1-year-old, Charlie, barged into the room and dutifully messed up the piles, which led me to suggest to Will that we buy folders and fill them with appropriate coins from his stash. We have already worked on several state quarter folders, which he enjoyed, and he was excited about the prospect of working on some new ones. “They’ll be a good place to keep the money until we spend it.” he said.

This turn of events could have been timed better, as our eight-month Wisconsin winter seems to have given way to a beautiful summer, but whatever. I’m excited about fostering Will’s interest in coins.

My question is this: Beyond filling folders with coins he currently possesses, what next steps can I take to foster Will’s interest in coins? Any individual coins that would interest a 5-year-old? Any recommended coin books for youngsters? What about storage supplies?

E-mail me at scott.tappa@fwmedia.com, or write to 700 East State St., Iola, WI 54990. Will and I are looking forward to your suggestions … and my wife is looking forward to getting those coins off the floor.

Scott Tappa is publisher of the numismatics group at Krause Publications.

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