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  1. Making Change Lesson Plan
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Variety of items for class store, such as fruit snacks and pencils (labeled with prices under ten cents); assortment of play money for each table of students; magnetic coins; whiteboard and markers; 12 copies of matching worksheet; 12 copies of exit slip


Students will Know

  • how to identify and count different denominations of US money
  • how to calculate the appropriate amount of change when overpaid

Students will Understand

  • the primary strategy used for determining the right amount of change is “counting on”
  • there are a variety of ways in which change can be made in any given situation

Students will be able to Do

  • explain the process of calculating change to a classmate
  • count out the correct amount of change using play money

Resource Instructions

Review of Previously Learned Material

  1. Place a “store” at the front of the class- which consists of various items priced under ten cents.  Call on students one at a time to buy something at the class store using play money, but they may not use pennies or nickels.  No change will be given. 
  2. After four or five students have made purchases, ask the class if they expected anything different to happen when purchases were made?  Was anything unusual about this situation?  What should have happened?  Why?


Statement of Objectives

There are two reasons it is important to be able to make change with money: 1) so that you never have to pay more than the cost of something; and 2) so that you do not have to have the exact right change every time you buy something. 



  1. Talk about how we make change: when I make change, I think about “counting on”- who can tell me what that means?
  2. Model counting on: place magnetic coins on one side of the white board.  Ask students to imagine that a beach ball costs 69 cents, but Tom paid 95 cents for it.  To determine how much change, count on from 69 until you get to 95.  Show this by sliding magnetic coins to the other side of the board.  Count on as the coins are moved, and once 95 is reached, circle the coins that were used to get there.  Count the sum of these coins and write the amount (26 cents), as this is the change that needs to be given. 
  3. Ask students if there is another way they could have counted on from 69 to reach 95, and allow them to explain alternate solutions. 
  4. Model counting on again with different numbers, using the same procedure as above. 


Guided Practice   

  1. Ask students to grab a handful of coins from their table’s collection.  This time they will be able to answer a new problem independently, by using coins on their desks.  Samantha paid 85 cents for a necklace that only cost 57 cents.  How much change should she receive? (28 cents)
  2. Circulate around the classroom and assist students as needed. 
  3. For students who finish early, they may try to find alternate ways to count on from 57 to 85. 
  4. Call on students to share their answer and the ways in which they counted on.
  5. Provide another guided practice problem and follow the same procedure as above.  This time, make up a new number story.
  6. Ask students to share their answer with the person next to them, and show him or her how they counted on.


Independent Practice

  1. Pass out worksheet for students to complete independently. 
  2. Students who would like extra support may use the play coins to count on and determine the correct amount of change.
  3. Students who finish early will use the back of the paper to create and solve their own problems where the denominations are over a dollar.
  4. Circulate to observe and assist students as needed.
  5. Collect worksheets when students are finished.
  6. Ask students to quickly write their name on a slip of paper, and collect these (to be used in the game that follows).
  7. Play a game to practice counting change: this is a team game, where students are in teams of four based on their assigned seating arrangements.  On the board, write the cost of an item, and tell students how much was paid for it.  Everyone is to work in their teams to determine the correct amount of change.  Play money may be used.  To encourage students to work together and teach each other, only one student’s name (out of the whole class) will be pulled out of a hat to state the correct answer and explain how he or she knows.  If the answer and explanation are correct, that person’s team earns the amount of money that was returned as change.  This will be recorded on the board.  If the answer or explanation is incorrect, the team will lose the amount of money that was returned as change.


  1. Provide extensions for students who finish early: allow students to think critically about alternative ways to count on, and encourage students to create and solve problems with higher denominations of money.
  2. Give assistance to students who struggle with making change: circulate around the room to answer questions and model counting on, and encourage the use of money manipulatives.
  3. Encourage all students to participate and discuss the material by creating opportunities for everyone to share with their peers in case they are uncomfortable sharing answers with the class.

Ask a variety of questions so that all students feel able to respond.  Some questions will require content knowledge by asking for explanations, while others simply allow students to participate by sharing their experiences with the class store.


Pass out an exit slip to each student to complete.  Explain that this is just a couple of questions so that you can show how much you know about making change.

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