Fun With Money

Originally Published: January 1999

The holidays are over and its time to get back to the academic routine-but, that doesn’t mean assignments must be dull. Begin the year’s math lessons with a topic most kids enjoy, money.

Grades K – 2: Use pennies, nickels and dimes for totals up to 25 cents.

Grades 3 – 4 : Use pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollars for totals up to $20.00.

  1. Encourage the children to reason. Hide a number of coins in your hand, telling the children how many you have. Tell them the total value of the coins. Let them figure out the possible combinations of coins you might have.I have three coins. They total 16 cents. What are they?If the children have difficulty, show them one coin. If they still can’t reason it through, use two coin combinations for a while. If they find three easy, use four coin combinations.
  2. Ask children 8 and older to find as many combinations of coins as they can to represent the value of a nickel, dime, quarter, and half-dollar.

    Nickel: 1 nickel; 5 pennies

    Dime: 1 dime; 2 nickels; 1 nickel and 5 pennies; 10 pennies

    Quarter: 1 quarter; 1 dime and 3 nickels; 2 dimes and 1 nickel; 5 nickels; 25 pennies; various combinations of pennies and other coins.

    Half-dollar: 1 half-dollar; 2 quarters; 5 dimes; 10 nickels; 50 pennies; various combinations of pennies and other coins.

  3. Play store-assigning dollar and cents amounts to a variety of objects. Children place their selections in a basket, take them to the “cashier” who calculates the total, then offers payment and receives change. Use actual money rather than play money whenever possible.
  4. Make a chart listing items and the cost of each. Give the children money and ask them to purchase as many items as they can with what you have given them. If they are able, also ask them how much change they will get back. For example, give a child $2.00 in a combination of coins and/or bills. Ask, “What can you buy for $2.00? What change will you get?” The children can solve the problem using paper and pencil, or by acting it out. Some children may need to purchase one item at a time, getting the change before deciding what to buy next.
  5. Make up word problems for students to solve. I have $1.00, I buy a notebook for 49 cents. How much change should I receive?Teach ways to reason: 49 cents is almost 50. 100 take away 50 is 50. Now I must add the penny between 49 and 50. My change is 51 cents. OR I know 49 and 49 is 98, which is 2 cents from one dollar. So I add 2 cents to 49 and get 51 cents.
  6. Give each child a catalog and allow him to select items of interest. He should list each item and its cost, then total the order.
  7. To combine money objectives with probability, begin with a number of covered coins, not telling the number of coins, but telling which coins. “I have pennies, nickels and dimes in this bowl. I’m going to pull out (#) coins. Could I have (amount) in my hand?”Have the children make a chart of possible combinations that could be in your hand or that they could take out of the bowl. Use two, then three coins. Use four when students are able.

Teaching Tip:

If students have difficulty relating addition and subtraction of money to ordinary addition and subtraction, use dollar bills, dimes and pennies as manipulatives and review place value lessons using pennies (ones), then dimes (tens) then dollars (hundreds).

Activities and tips above were taken from Maximum Math.