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Money Money Money! A Math Lesson Students Can Relate To

By Kathy Foust

Learning the value of money can be fun. This math lesson plan on money teaches students the value of money as well as the value of goal setting and accomplishments.


Math is a subject that requires more innovation than most to elicit student interest. But students tend to respond well to positive reinforcement. This lesson plan requires very little out of pocket expense, is fun for students, and is guaranteed to create interest.

To begin with, go to a dollar store and purchase a few packs of fake money. This should include a selection of all levels of change up to a quarter as well as dollar bills. Don't worry, you will be using these for several money lesson plans so the minute expense is well worth it! While you are at the dollar store, purchase several packs of colorful pencils, pens, erasers and any other small items you think your students may be interested in earning. You will also need a box of envelopes.

Getting Started

Give each child an envelope. This will serve as their "wallet". Allow the children to decorate the wallet as they wish, as long as their name is clearly written somewhere on the outside of the envelope. Give each child a nickle and a penny to put in their wallet. As you give the students the "money", explain the values of each coin. In fact, it may be a good idea to practice counting by ones and fives as you pass out the change. Explain that when students count pennies, they are counting by ones. When they count nickles, they are counting by fives. Each student should now understand they each have six cents.

Give each item you purchased a monetary value. For instance, erasers may be ten cents, pencils fifteen, etc. Students will have to earn "money" to purchase these items. Keep an example of these items in view of the students so they have a visual aid to motivate them as they complete their assignments.

The Process

Practice counting by ones and fives with the students. When they successfully count to a predesignated value, reward them with a small amount, such as a penny. As students earn money, have them write down what they earned and add it to what they already have. This is their current balance. This balance sheet should be kept in their "wallet".

Continue to reward students in a similar manner for completing math assignments. Encourage them to do their best by rewarding a small amount such as a penny for the completion of an assignment and raise the reward for higher scores. For example, students receive a penny for completing the assignment, two cents for anything over sixty percent, three cents for anything over a seventy percent and so on.

What To Do With All That Money

At the end of the week, allow students to "shop" at the "store" with their money. As students' understanding of monetary value increases, raise the amounts that you deal with. Have students regroup their change when needed. For example, instead of having six pennies, they should have a nickel and a penny.

Keep in mind that this lesson plan outlines the basics. You can adjust this plan to meet your needs. Also, when the rewards would be too expensive, you can modify the rewards to coupons for extra privileges instead of material items.