You probably think toys today are really cool compared to the bummer ones your parents must have had. Well, even though your parents lived in caves and ate dirt for dinner, we all had some cool toys ourselves – like the Mickey Mouse coin sorter, shown here. This toy hails from decades ago, or at least that’s when I got mine (let’s not focus on which decade…), and is both piggy bank and marvel of machinery. When you stick a coin into the slot at the top right, if it’s a quarter it’s heavy enough to tip the first red seesaw and fall into Mickey’s right arm. If it’s a nickel, it shoots straight through to his left arm. Pennies and dimes are narrower so they fall through a hole in that seesaw, then either tip or shoot through the bottom seesaw into the correct leg. So smart and simple, all without batteries, lasers or digital screens. Even without electricity or blinking lights, the money still adds up.
Wee ones: If you stick 2 quarters, 3 dimes, 2 nickels and a penny into Mickey, how many coins did you sort?
Little kids: If Mickey has 4 coins in each arm and 4 coins in each leg – 4 quarters, 4 dimes, 4 nickels, 4 pennies – how many coins is he holding? Bonus: How many seesaw tips did those coins make happen? (Again, quarters and pennies each tip one seesaw; dimes and nickels shoot through.)
Big kids: If you put 5 of each type of coin into Mickey, how much money is that, in cents? Bonus: If you swap out all the pennies and replace them with 5 extra quarters, now how much money do you have?
The sky’s the limit: If you put in 82 cents and exactly 4 seesaw tips happened, how many combination of coins could you have put in?
Wee ones: 8 coins.
Little kids: 16 coins. Bonus: 8 tips.
Big kids: 205 cents or $2.05, since it’s 5 times 41 cents. Bonus: $3.25.
The sky’s the limit: 4 possibilities. You had to have put in 2 quarters (one tip each) plus 2 pennies for 2 more tips, so nickels or dimes make up the remaining 30 cents. Possible combinations are 3 dimes 0 nickels, 2 dimes 2 nickels, 1 dime 4 nickels, and 0 dimes 6 nickels, always with 2 quarters and 2 pennies.