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Classroom Activities that Teach Money Skills

Janelle Cox

Money skills are an important part of navigating through life, and as teachers, it is up to us to find fun ways to teach our students these import skills. Starting in kindergarten, students can learn the basics of money with recognition and value skills of coins. As they continue through the grades, they can learn higher amount of money and how to use them. Here are a few classroom activities about money for grades 1 through 4.

Classroom Activities: Money Bags

For this activity, the money skills are literally in the bag! Place an assortment of play money at the math learning center, along with a student-labeled paper lunch bag. On the paper bag, randomly write down five different amounts of money. Keep the labeled bags at the learning center so students can easily search for their name and find their bag when it’s their turn to go to that center.

When a student is at the math center he chooses, then circles one of the money amounts, then must match that amount with the play money. He must fill his bag with the matching amount. Students at the center take turns switching bags and checking that they match. If the amount inside the bag matches with amount circled, the student checking the bag places an X over that amount. If the money doesn’t match, the money is placed back into the center. This continues until all five amounts on the paper bag have an X on them.

Classroom Activities: Coupon Math

What’s more fun than clipping coupons? Your students will get a kick out of this math skills activity. Bring in a variety of coupons for students to search through and clip out. Allow students to choose two coupons to write a creative math problem. Students must create a story about their trip to the supermarket and they must include the following: The price of each item, how much money he/she has spent, as well as how much they have saved with their coupon. They must also include the proper calculations for their math problem.

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Money Toss

If you’re looking for a fun hands-on money skills game, this is it. Divide students into small groups, about four to a group works well. Give each group a bag of coins, paper and a pencil, a bowl, and a piece of tape. Students must adhere the tape to the floor and take about five steps back (how far back depends on the student’s age) and then place the bowl on the floor. To play, one student sits by the bowl and is the “counter,” while the other students stand behind the tape and are the “tossers.” Students take turns tossing coins into the bowl. If the coin lands in the bowl, the counter adds the value to their count. Each group continues playing until they reach the desired amount set by the teacher. Then, a new counter is picked and play continues.   

Classroom Sale

Students will love shopping and selling while learning valuable money skills during this garage sale-type activity. Ask students to bring in a few items that they would like to part with. Then, as a class, decide upon how much each item will sell for. Have students create fun price tags to place on the items. Once the items are labeled, tagged, and in place, set up a play cash register and let students shop. Give each student a small bag of play money and allow them to take turns shopping for an item. You can designate a student to be at the cash register or you can be. This is a great activity to for students to understand the value of money.

Money Sort

This is another great money skills activity for your learning center. At the center, place a divided tray (a plastic tray like a vegetable tray with the circle in the middle) and on that tray, label each section penny, nickel, dime, quarter. Then, place all of the coins in the middle circle and have students sort money into the appropriate sections on the tray.

Money skills are an essential component in any math curriculum. You can use the subject of money as a strategy to reinforce basic math in a more interesting and engaging way. In the meantime, you will be teaching your students necessary skills that they will use the rest of their lives.

What are you favorite math skills activities and games? Do you have any that you would like to share? Please leave your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts!

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.