Saving Makes Cents

K, 1, 2

The students respond to A Chair for my Mother by identifying ways families save and spend money.  They will then identify how savings can accumulate over a period of time.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • name examples of saving and spending money in the story.
  • construct a bank in which to practice saving over a period of time.
  • identify coin values and practice skip counting.
  • create a list of family activities to benefit the common good.
  • define philanthropy as the sharing of time, talent; or treasure.
  • one real coin per student (penny, nickel, quarter, or dime)
  • magnifying lenses to share
  • plastic bag with 50 cents (combination of dimes, nickels, and pennies--play or real money)for each student
  • large image of a penny, nickel, and dime
  • A Chair for My Mother (see Bibliographic References)
  • Projected copy and copy for each student of Handout One: Ways to Save Money
  • large jar
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent/Student Homework: Make a bank from a recyclable container such as a carton, can, plastic bottle, or jug. Practice saving money in your bank over a month period.

  • Williams, Vera.  A Chair for My Mother.  New York, New York:  Mulberry Books, 1982. ISBN:  0688040748


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Begin the lesson by giving each studenta real coin (penny, nickel, quarter, or dime).Pair up students to compare and talk about how their coins are different and how they are alike. (Partners should have different coin denominations.) They may use magnifying lenses to look at small details. After they have made some observations as a team, have them share their observations with the whole class.Listen to their comments and discuss the purpose of the different symbols, words, values, and colors.

  2. Display a large image of each coin and tell the students each coin's value.Write the amount near the visual using the number and a cent sign.

  3. Hand each student a plastic bag of different coins adding up to $0.50. Allow a few minutes for students to manipulate the coins and sort them on their desktops.

  4. Tell the students to show you a certain coin or value of coins. The students should put the requested coin or value aside on their desk tops so the teacher can quickly see if each student can recognize the coin or value. Show the students the correct answer. Repeat with other coins or values.Allow students to take turns naming a coin or value for the other students to identify on their desks. For further practice, small groups of students could continue to do this.

  5. Collect coins from the children and tell them very soon we are going to learn how people use money in different ways for different purposes.

  6. Remind the students of the definition of philanthropy. Ask them to identify whether money is an example of time, talent, or treasure.

  7. Day Two:

    Anticipatory Set:

    Display a large jar and ask children to explain what it is and how they would use this item. Listen to their ideas and thentell the students that -- like the jar in the story "A Chair for My Mother" -- the class is going to use this as a bank. Make sure children understand that a bank is a place to save money.

  8. Pass out the bags of 50 cents to each student.Ask the students to think of things that cost 50 cents or less. Write their ideas on a list. Ask students what else they could do with the money. Add these ideas to the list.

  9. With the students' help, figure out how much money there is if the students combine their bags of money into the bank. Ask the students to think of things they could do with the combined money. Write their ideas on the list. Accept all answers without judgment.

  10. Look over the completed list with the students. Discuss and sort the responses into save, spend, and donate. If they don't bring it up, guide the students to recognize that their money is more valuable when combined for a common purpose. Decide as a group how to use the money (guide them to choose to donate the money).

  11. Have the students all deposit their 50 cents into the bank.

  12. Ask the students some questions: "Why isn't our classroom bank full?" "How long do you think it will take to fill this bank?" "What are some ways that we could fill our bank faster?"

  13. Reread A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (see Bibliographical References).

  14. Ask the children to listen for ways the family earns and saves money for the chair (working, tips, bargain shopping, and collecting from relatives).Write thesemethods on the transparency copy of Handout One: Ways to Save Money.

  15. Pass out copies of Handout One: Ways to Save Money. The students write ways to earn/save money to fill the jar. They may copy ideas from the group brainstorming, think of their own, or bring the paper home for their families to help them come up with ideas.


Assess student understanding by observing involvement in brainstorming and discussions. Observe their level of committment through their responses on Handout One: Ways to Save Money.

Cross Curriculum 

The class works together to collect money in a jar. They decide together to what cause they wish to donate the money from the full jar.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
    3. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark E.4 Describe the concept of saving for the future.
    4. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.