Money Unit
This page gives you lessons, ideas, resources, and more to help you plan a unit on money. 

Lessons & Activities | Songs & Poems | Learning Centers | Online Games | Teacher Resources | Books



  • Lesson 1 - Introducing Coins = This lesson incorporates not only math, but also social studies and art.  To begin, have each student bring in a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, and if possible, a half dollar. Teach each coin individually, preferably one a day if time permits, using the following steps:

1. Read the Coin Poem (see below) to introduce students to the concept of coins. Then read the stanza of the coin you will be working on that day.

2. Have students take out the coin and look at the "head" and the "tail". Ask them what they see on each side.

3. Then explain that what each item represents. Explain that the head always contains the face of a famous president and the tail represents something about that president or our country.  Check out this website to see what each individual coin represents--- Learning About Money.  To see some more facts, download this worksheet on coins.

4. Then find which student has the oldest coin/newest coin.

5. Using thin paper and pencil, make rubbings of the coin.

6. Practice counting by that coin (1's. 10's, 5's). With the quarter, I review amounts of 1, 2, 3, and 4 quarters.

  • Lesson 2 - Counting Coins = The students will repeatedly practice counting by 1's, 5's, 10's.  Then, using paper coins, teach students how to count using coins (and counting patterns).  Using transparency coins and an overhead projector, model counting from highest value coin to lowest value coin.  One problem students may have is remembering the value of some coins.  Repeat the Coin Poem with them to transition into your math lesson.  Also, keep some trade books on money for the students to read through to reinforce visual recognition. Another trick to help students count coins is to write the value of the coins right above it and write the amount as they count up.

  • Lesson 3 - Introducing  & Counting Bills = Follow Lesson 1 to teach bills, but in a shorter amount of time. Students have a harder time learning coins than they do dollar bills. 

  • Lesson 4 - How to Use a Checkbook = This lesson helps reinforce writing number words as well as teaching them how to write checks and balance a check book. Before you start this lesson, have students create their own checkbooks and deposit slips. For copies, go to Checkbook. Tip: I make my own transparency copies by buying transparency paper for copiers. Therefore, I can model what the students need to do in their own checkbooks.  I also use transparencies for other activities across all subjects.

1. Show students a real checkbook and its contents. Explain that adults use checks to pay for things instead of money.

2. Give students bags with money inside. Explain that they are going to deposit their money into the bank.  Show them how to write out a deposit slip and write the amount in their book.

3. Pass out a bill (telephone, electric, etc.). Look at the amount (use small amounts lower than $100 for younger children), and show students how to fill out the check.

4. Have students practice "depositing" money and writing checks. Show them how to balance their checkbook.  


  • Grocery Shopping = This activity reinforces hands-on practice for counting coins.  Cut out grocery items from circulars and glue 1-4 items on construction paper to make cards. Laminate.  Write prices for the grocery items.  Make some cards easy, average, and difficult.  Make enough for a class set.  Working in pairs, students use fake coins to count out the right amount of coins for each grocery item.  When they are done with all grocery items, have them switch cards.

  • How to Earn Money Through Homework = Students learn to earn money by completing their homework.  Students will be assigned four homework assignments a day.  Each assignment is worth 25 cents.  If they do extra work (or over time), they receive an additional 10 cents. They collect their money when they hand in their homework (either through the teacher or a "banker"). Everyone keeps track of their earnings through their savings book. Students are given time to keep the balance of their savings book.  Then at the end of the week, students can use their money to purchase items from the class store.

  • Menu Math = Have students bring in items for a snack.  Create a menu in which they must purchase food, snacks, drinks, and utensils.  Using their money from their earnings (see activity above), students order what they can afford. This activity is usually done on a Friday and with the help of an adult. A sample menu will be provided soon.  

  • "Smart" (Shel Silverstein) = Download a copy of "Smart" by Shel Silverstein. Read the poem aloud to the class. Ask questions about the poem. Then give students a copy of the worksheet. As each stanza is read, have students figure out how much money the boy gets in return. Have students answer the questions that follow the poem.

  • Calendar Money= Give each student a calendar page. For each day, have students represent the date with coins. For example, on the 15th, they will use a dime and a nickel.  Make sure to emphasize to use the smallest amount of coins.

  • My Adventures As A....... = Students will write a story about their adventures as a coin.  They must imagine what it would be like to be a penny, quarter, nickel, etc.  Once they written a good copy, staple their paper to construction paper. Cut out round circles (either brown or gray) to create their coin. Remind them to look at all the details of the head and the detail as they illustrate their circle. Attach the finished coin to their story.

Students must keep the following in mind as they write their story: 

1. How do you travel?

2. Where do you go?

3. What things do you see?

4. How does your story end?


 Poems & Songs

Coin Poem

Penny, penny
Easily spent
Copper brown and
worth one cent.

Nickel, nickel,
Thick and fat,
You're worth five cents.
I know that.

Dime, dime,
Little and thin,
I remember,
You're worth ten.

Quarter, quarter
Big and bold,
You're worth twenty-five
I am told!


The Dollar Song
(to the tune of "Ten Little Indians")

10 little, 20 little, 30 little pennies.
40 little, 50 little, 60 little pennies.
70 little, 80 little, 90 little pennies.
100 pennies make a dollar!

2 small, 4 small, 6 small nickels.
8 small, 10 small, 12 small nickels.
14 small, 16 small, 18 small nickels.
20 nickels make a dollar!

1 tiny, 2 tiny, 3 tiny dimes.
4 tiny, 5 tiny, 6 tiny dimes.
7 tiny, 8 tiny, 9 tiny dimes.
10 dimes make a dollar!

1 big, 2 big, 3 big quarters.
4 big, 4 big, 4 big quarters.
1 big, 2 big, 3 big quarters.
4 quarters make a dollar!


by Shel Silverstein

from "Where the Sidewalk Ends"

(Click to download poem and worksheet)


 Learning Centers

  • Money Flashcards = Create flashcards by using coin stamps and blank flashcards (which can be made with white/tan oaktag or bought at a teacher store). Stamp different combinations of coins on the flashcards. Place the flashcards in a plastic bag or large manila envelope. Have students choose a flashcard and calculate the amount of coins. This activity can be turned into a game or be used individually for extra practice.

  • Money Flashcards II = This is a variation on the first center. You will need two sets of flashcards. One set will be programmed with coins (made by using the stamps). The second set will contain pictures of toys, food, clothing, etc. with price tags. Students will match the picture flashcards and coin flashcards.

  • Catalog Shopping = Place a toy catalog in a basket along with fake money, stamps, index cards, and an order form (click for a copy). Students pick an index card that has a written money amount---this tells them how much they are allowed to spend. They take the amount on the index card from the "bank" and go shopping. Students look through the catalog and write down items they would like on the order form. They must then add up the total on their order form (not exceeding their allotment). Then they go to either the teacher, aide, or student cashier to pay for their purchases. The cashier and the student calculate the amount of change that will be returned.