Cent Sense

K, 1, 2

Students will learn and practice manipulating money values. The class will set a budget plan and purchase ingredients for a class snack.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • sort and group coins by value.
  • differentiate between borrowing money and paying interest.
  • plan and estimate cost of supplies needed for a snack.
  • count by 1s, 5s and 10s.
  • interpret data from a chart or graph.
  • Large models of coins
  • Individual bags of assorted real or plastic coins
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Chart paper or white board
  • Sticky notes
  • Ingredients for snack to be determined in lessonTeacher Note: You have different options for how to get the supplies or prepared snacks for the snack sale. You may ask parents to send snacks already prepared and in bags. Or, you may ask parents to send supplies for the class to prepare and place in bags. If the teacher acquires the snacks, he or she (or another lender) will be reimbursed after the sale. You may decide to do a combination of these options: ask for donations of baked goods and purchase the ingredients for a trail mix.

Money Poem http://www.teachingheart.net/moneyp.htm> July 21, 2003


  1. Anticipatory Set:Sitting in a classroom circle, ask the learners which would they rather have: Two dimes, one quarter, or three pennies? Display large models of these coins. Ask the students to explain their responses. Discuss the meaning of the word “value.” Discuss names and values of each coin. Lead them to understand that one quarter has a greater value than three pennies.

  2. Read “Money Poem” to the class (Attachment One). Give students their own copies of these rhymes to help them learn the values of the coins. Practice the rhymes several times during the course of this unit. If possible, make mini books so there is one rhyme on each page with room for the students to illustrate the coin using a coin stamp, photocopy of the coin, coin rubbing or their own drawings.


  3. Distribute individual bags of assorted coins and magnifying glasses. Have students observe characteristics of coins and then sort and resort by different attributes such as size, color, edges, fronts, backs, etc.

  4. ​Practice counting different groups of coins. Count by 1s, 5s, 10s and 25s.

  5. ​Tell the learners that for many businesses to sell goods, they need to borrow money to buy supplies. For our snack sale, we will need to borrow money from the bank. We will then be charged interest for the privilege of using the bank’s money.

  6. ​Invite a representative from a local bank to visit the class and explain loans and interest.

  7. ​Day Two:

    Note to Teacher: (In preparation for this day, the results of the school snack survey should be listed in columns on large chart paper or a white board.)

  8. Practice counting money. Distribute individual bags of assorted coins. Practice counting different groups of coins. Count by 1s, 5s, 10s, and 25s.

  9. ​Review the money poem from the previous day.

  10. ​Remind the students that they used a survey to gain information about the school’s favorite snacks. Another way to gather information is to graph it. List the top four choices for snacks on a class graph. “Let’s find out what snack is our class favorite.” Give each student a sticky note. (They may draw their favorite snack on the sticky note.) Have students put their sticky notes in the proper columns on the graph. Ask a variety of questions about the results such as: “Which snack has the most responses?” “Which snack has the least responses?” “How many more responses does __________ have than __________?” Discuss the results and choose the final snacks (there may be more than one).

  11. Discuss how you could get the snacks for the snack sale. It may be a combination of purchasing ingredients and asking parents for donations (of prepared snacks or ingredients). Determine which ingredients are needed to make the chosen snack(s). Estimate the cost of the ingredients by looking at grocery store advertisements.

  12. Optional: with money borrowed from the “bank,” walk to a local grocery store and purchase the ingredients with students. Have students look for the best buys as they compare prices. Calculate how much money you spent on the ingredients. Note to Teacher: If it is not possible for the class to walk (or take a field trip) to a grocery store, the teacher may purchase the items and continue the lesson the next day.


Teacher observation of student participation in money sorting, graphing and counting activities.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark E.4 Describe the concept of saving for the future.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.2 Describe a project budget.