A Strategy for Counting Money
I was initially very frustrated when thinking about how to teach money. My class had not covered double digit addition yet not had they covered addition of more than three digits, so how was I going to teach them how to add money??? I found this strategy through the TFA resource exchange and it worked really well for my students. The strategy shows students how to count money by drawing lines or "legs" based on how many "fives" each coin has. A quarter gets 5 lines (two arms, to legs, and a ponytail...just like Washington!), a dime gets 2 lines (two legs), and a nickel gets 1 line (like a lollipop). After you label the coin, then count by fives. Each time you count make a little cross over the coin (so they can keep track of where they were). After adding all the silver coins, count on with the pennies. I was amazed at how well the students responded to this method. We practiced it with plastic coins and our white boards first then translated it to paper images of coins.
After counting money, we practiced counting money in story problems. This reinforced the meaning of money away from the strategy. I read Lorreen Leedy's Follow the Money to my students. The book is a little bit challenging, and parts were above many of them, but they really seemed to enjoy it and the concept of the book, that money is of a certain value and exchanged for a certain value, was simple enough for them to understand. The has great illustrations and helped us discuss some of the features of money more in depth.
After reading the book, we walked through a series of story problems I created to reinforce that you pay money for something. I would tell the children to put X amount of coins on their board and count them. After we counted them, I would start a story and we would take money off of the board for each part of the story and recount. I also always made sure that the children were taking off the "best" way to make change (ex. for ten cents I would have them pull a dime over 2 nickels). I explained that when you make change or pay for something you typically want to use the fewest amount of coins possible. For example:
Miss Prinzo has 2 quarters, 2 dimes, 2 nickels, and 4 pennies. How much money does she have?
Miss Prinzo goes to the store and buys a pack of stickers for 30 cents. How much money does she have left? (we did this as a group so I would ask the children how we should make 30 cents, remove it from their board, and recount it for each step)
Miss Prinzo buys a notebook to put her stickers in. It costs 37 cents. How much money does she have left?
Miss Prinzo wants to buy an ice cream cone. It costs 50 cents. Can she buy it? Why or why not? How much more money does she need.
After we practiced as a group several times, I had the children work in pairs with manipulatives (coins), individually with manipulatives, and in pairs without manipulatives, and individually without manipulatives. Children who finished early were given the challenge of writing their own money stories (a document of this is in the link above). I picked one of these problems each day to write on chart paper and work through during our introduction time with whole group. This was an amazing motivation for the students. So much so that I ended up putting a few blank stories in our writing center for children to keep practicing with.
Student work samples. The first image is the "money story frame" ( a brilliant story about Miss Prinzo and her trip to Walmart complete with the "Save Money, Live Better" logo) and the second image was of our first student authored problem.
The assessment for my unit was accomplished over 2 days. During day one each student shopped at FroggerMart. This was a HUGE hit with my students. They were asked to pay for 2-4 items. With each item, they had to make correct change to pay me (or tell me why they couldn't) and then figure out how much they had left to spend and still could afford. The students did a great job with this...only a few needed teacher intervention for the task. This was definitely an activity that would need a few adult volunteers. We did it during half group time (only 10 students in the room) with two adults and it still took forever! I tried to group the students by the expected pace and ability level and eventually did 5 students at a time instead of the 3 I had intended.
I have to admit, I was REALLY proud of my students during the unit and after the assessment. They went well above grade level standards in this unit! I couldn't be prouder!