Lesson plan

Show Me the Money: Understanding Value

In this lesson, your students will learn how to buy items and use money to purchase items in the real world. You will set up a store for the students to learn about money.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Purchasing Items and Making Change pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Purchasing Items and Making Change pre-lesson.
  • Students will be able to identify the values of coins and dollars.
  • Students will be able to make change.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Ask the students to raise their hands if they have ever been shopping. Explain to the students that today, they will be going shopping in the classroom!
  • Tell your students that they will be spending pretend money to purchase, or buy, pretend items. Explain that they will be counting money to make sure they have enough to buy items.
  • Ask students, "Why is it important to figure out if we have enough money before we go to the sales counter?" Have students think-pair-share, explaining their answer to an elbow partner.
  • Show students the pretend money and a few of the pretend items they will be using.
(10 minutes)
  • Get out one of the bags of money and model adding the money together, using a strategy of your choice.
  • Show students some of the items they can buy and the prices of each item. For example, display a sticker for ten cents, a book for two dollars, and a pencil for fifty cents.
  • Ask a student to come up to the board. Explain to the student that they will be the customer and you will be the sales clerk. Have the student model how to give you the money as they buy an item. Guide the student as they figure out what dollars and coins to use. If the student is unable to give you the exact amount of money, guide them to give you an amount that is over the purchase price. Help students use strategies to figure out how much change they should receive.
  • Provide students with resources, such as whiteboards, markers, pencils, and paper, to calculate the change they should receive.
(10 minutes)
  • Allow a few more students to come up and model how to purchase items.
  • Guide students as they figure out what bills and coins to use to purchase the items and as they think of strategies to use to figure out how much change they should receive back.
  • Ask students to write a sentence on the board, explaining how much change they received back.
(20 minutes)
  • Instruct your students to walk around the "store" looking for things they'd like to buy.
  • As they are walking around, have your students keep track of what they've bought so that they can have the amounts to review at the end.


  • Encourage one of the students to be the cashier so that she can practice making change for people.


  • Write the value of each coin or dollar on the board so that students can refer to it during the activity.
  • Allow students to work with a bag of coins as they develop an understanding of making change.
(10 minutes)
  • Have your students complete the Coin Challenge: City Trip worksheet.
  • Distribute glue and scissors to each of your students.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather students back together and write the following question stems on the whiteboard:
    • What did you do that helped you make sense of the problem?
    • Did you find it easy or difficult to make change?
    • Was it easier or harder to use dollars bills or to use coins?
    • Why is it important that we understand how to make change?

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