Ideas for Teaching Dollars and Cents

Counting coins, making change, and solving money word problems are all important skills. Here are some ideas to help you teach them!

There are lots of creative ways for teaching dollars and cents. Rachel explores several games and activities that can be use to teach this important skill.

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Counting Coins

First off, manipulatives are the way to go, ideally real coins and “play” dollars, but the plastic version is okay. It is fun and satisfying to handle real money, and it echoes real life. This cannot be said for pictures of coins on a worksheet.

 

There are many games you can play with coins. Here are just a few:

 

  • Scoot Cents: Have each child put 4-10 coins of various values on his or her desk. Use an index card or a sticky note to number the desks. Students number notebook paper for an answer sheet (or use a pre-made one) and travel from desk to desk counting coins and writing the totals in the appropriate spaces. When you are done, everyone returns to his or her own desk. Check answers by having each student tell what the coins on his or her desk total. You can find more details on how to play Scoot here.
  • Coin Counting BINGO:  Write 24 coin totals on the board (eg: $0.53, $1.17, etc.). Have students write the totals randomly in the spaces of blank BINGO cards. Use your document camera to display coins that total one of the numbers on the board. Students use pennies or other markers to block out the totals as you display them. Circle the numbers on the board as you display them so that you can keep track of the ones you have done. Play until someone has a BINGO…or until everyone has Blackout.

There are lots of creative ways for teaching dollars and cents. Rachel explores several games and activities that can be use to teach this important skill.

  • Coin Brain Bender Puzzles:  This is great for reviewing with older students. Challenge students to use a specific number of coins to make a specific total (be sure they have coins to work with). Try the puzzle above to see how challenging this can be. You can make your own puzzles or purchase this set of 24 Coin Count Task Cards. Another option is to have your students create these puzzles for each other.
  • You might also want to check the game Allowance from Lakeshore Learning Materials, which would be a great center or indoor recess activity.

There are lots of creative ways for teaching dollars and cents. Rachel explores several games and activities that can be use to teach this important skill.

Adding and Subtracting

Fluently adding and subtracting dollars and cents is an important skill…there won’t always be a calculator or a cash register to do the work! Here are some ideas to make this more fun:

 

  • Catalog Shopping: Round up a bunch of catalogs, and let your students go shopping. To “buy” an item, the student cuts it out of the catalog along with the price and glues it onto a piece of paper. Once they have bought several items, they can total up the value. You may want to give your students a budget. That way they can also subtract what they spend against what they have.
  • Plan a Fun Day:  Give your students a budget (say $50-100) and allow them to plan a fun day for themselves and their families. They can use the internet to research how much each activity costs; then they can create a schedule and a balance sheet to show what they are spending.
  • Use Real-World Situations: Say you are going on a field trip to the zoo. To go on the trip, you will have to cover extra bus fee and admission for the students and parent chaperones. Part of the money will come from a PTA field trip fund, but the rest needs to be split equally among your students. Allow your students to do the math to figure out how much each student needs to pay. Play around with the numbers – what if there was no PTA fund? What if the zoo cost $0.50 more per person?
  • Set up a Snack Shack Math Center: Students use this menu to solve task card dollar and cents problems like the one below. Another option is to use a real menu and have students select items to create their own problems.
There are lots of creative ways for teaching dollars and cents. Rachel explores several games and activities that can be use to teach this important skill.
There are lots of creative ways for teaching dollars and cents. Rachel explores several games and activities that can be use to teach this important skill.
How do you teach money? Please share your ideas with a comment!

 

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