At the beginning of the year I gave my fourth grade students a pre-test, which assessed the prerequisite skills necessary for students to be successful in math this year. Many of the questions on the test focused on solving word problems involving money, a concept many students have difficulty with. This year was no different; many of my students had difficulty with computations involving money. Student were able to identify coins and bills, but struggled to compute with money amounts.
Solving word problems involving money is a second grade Common Core State Standard (CCSS 2.MD.C.8) so my students should not have been struggling with this concept. In any case, knowing this, I knew I had to immediately work on this skill with my students. So, I decided to create a performance task that focused on this standard and the Mathematical Practice (MP) standard 4, model with mathematics. MP 4 encourages students to apply the mathematics they know to solve problems in everyday life, society, and the workplace.
The Classroom Store Budgeting Lesson
I told the class we were going to setup a class store. So, the performance task I created involved having students purchase items for a classroom store based on a given budget. I told students that their task was to restock our classroom store for the year. I gave each student a budget of $50 and catalogs with classroom items. The budget amount can be altered depending on students’ ability level. Then, I explained that the objective of the task was to make a list of items from the catalogs that they would like to purchase for the classroom store.
While students were working on this task, I was doing a formative assessment by circulating to see if students were using the correct prices and were able to keep a running tab of what they had spent.
In the end, we did a gallery walk of all the lists so we could check everyone's totals to be sure all had used the correct prices, added correctly and used the entire budgeted amount. I collected all of the lists as my summative assessment.
If you actually have a budget for this as I do (supplied by our PTA), we tallied the class choices and then I actually purchased $50 worth of the top items for the store. My kids were THRILLED to shop that Friday for items they had helped to purchase. If you don't have the money, allow your students to draw pictures of their items and put the lists up around the classroom.
So, if your students need additional support with working with money, I encourage you to try this budgeting lesson! This task emphasizes for students that math is everywhere in real life. So, start by downloading my shopping list t-chart. Then, get your students shopping!