This blog post reviews the place of money in the K–2 curriculums using the Progress in Mathematics textbook series, and provides activities that you can use for students to make change including a change-making game.
In my home state of Massachusetts, the math curriculum framework added standards to Kindergarten and Grade 1 in order to address money. These standards were added because it’s important for students to understand the concept of money before they begin to compute with money amounts in Grade 2. No matter which state you teach in, students should learn early on that coins and bills both represent money amounts. Next, they should be able to identify the value of all U.S. coins and bills and know their comparative value and be able to find equivalent values, make change, and solve problems involving whole-number money amounts. Coin recognition is also important, so don’t forget to talk about heads and tails when you introduce students to coins!
Topics in Progress in Mathematics, Kindergarten through Grade 2 focus on identifying the value of coins, sorting like coins, finding the value of a group of coins, and adding and subtracting money amounts. Students also compare the values of different groups of coins. It is important when teaching money concepts to relate whole-number money amounts to place value. In Grade 1, students start to think about dimes as representing tens and pennies as representing ones. In Grade 2, students begin to solve real-world problems involving money, including making change. In Grade 3 and beyond, it is assumed that students come to the grade level with prior knowledge of money concepts.
The download at the end of this post provides engaging activities to help students understand money concepts, including making change. You will need sets of coins for students to engage in change-making games. Typical classroom manipulative kits contain coins for the early grades. For instance, the Progress in Mathematics series includes four sets of 96 coins each for students to use when practicing making change and engaging in other money activities.
Download three money activities that will help students practice making change. You will find ideas for word walls and two change-making games to use in your classroom or in Math Centers.