Math & Money for Kids
Money-how much do you have? What do you know about how it works? It's fun to spend it on things like new toys or video games, but are you money wise? If you take the time to learn about things like the names and values of money, how to use math as a tool with your money, and how to make a plan for your money, you'll be on your way to being a money master. Let's get started!
First, work on learning the names and values of different kinds of money. Coins are round pieces of money made from metal. Bills are paper money. In the US, pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters are the most common coins. Pennies are worth one cent, nickels are five cents, dimes are ten cents, and quarters are 25 cents. The value of bills is a little easier to remember because it is printed in numerals right on the paper. Usually you will see bills worth one, five, ten, 20, 50, or 100 dollars. 100 cents is equal to one dollar.
Now start using your math skills as a tool to help you master money! Since bills and coins are all ones, twos, fives, or tens it's really easy to use skip-counting to find out how much money you have. Add up the numbers you see on your bills. Start with the largest number and work your way to the smallest. The total amount of your bills is your dollar amount. Then do the same with any coins. The total of coins you have is your cents. Now you can say, "I have ____ dollars and ____ cents."
Estimating and subtracting are two more math skills that will help you master your money. At the store, round up the prices of the items you want to buy to the nearest dollar. Add the estimated amounts up. If your estimated total is less than the amount of money you have in your pocket, you have enough money to pay for all of your items. Subtracting can help you figure out how much money you will have left after you buy something. It can also help you know if the cashier is giving you the right amount of change from the cash register. When the cashier counts your money back to you, that is called "making change". Making change is an important process to understand. It's probably easiest to learn how to make change by having an adult help you in person, or by using one of the games below.
After you understand how the math of money works, learn how to use your money wisely. One idea many kids use involves three jars. One jar is for saving, one jar is for giving, and one is for spending. Every time you earn or get money, some of it should go in each jar. Talk with your parents about ideas for how you should use the money in each jar.
There are lots of fun ways to share your money and help others. If you love animals, maybe your "give" money could go to a local animal shelter. Many people are hungry; you could buy groceries for a family in need or give to a food bank.
Saving money is important too. If you don't have a savings account, your parents can help you start one at the bank. You can use your account to save money for college or your first car!
Spending is what most kids love to do with money. Have fun, but learn how to spend wisely. Have you ever bought something only to have it break as soon as you started playing with it? That's an awful feeling isn't it? Often it's better to save money and buy something more expensive and well-made.
Explore the following activities, games, and worksheets to learn all about money.
- Smart by Shel Silverstein- Understand the value of money with the help of this funny poem.
- Let's Find Out About Money--Utah Education Network -- Learn about what pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters look like and how much they're worth.
- My Money Workbook – An activity book about coins and earning money.
- My Money Workbook – An activity book about coins and earning money.
- Council for Economic Education – Count and identify coins; discover how coins are made and find out about the 50 State Quarters Program.
- Money Counts Lesson Collection from PBS – Buy materials for puppet-making from a "store" using amounts of money less than or equal to one dollar.
- You Can Bank on Me! Five-Lesson Unit – Learn about spending, saving, and giving; decide how to donate funds you have collected.
- Shopping and Math Problem-Solving – Make a budget and go shopping at the class store.
- Making Change – Make change using coins and dollars.
- Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday – Story and discussion about the importance of saving money and wise spending.
- Berenstain Bear's Trouble with Money – Make "critter banks" just like the Berenstain Bears' and learn about spending and saving.
- Lesson Plans from the Federal Reserve – Through the story of Beatrice (a Ugandan girl) and her goat, learn about estimating and setting a savings goal.
- The National Mint – Play the America the Beautiful Quarters Game here.
- Escape from the Barter Islands – Use your bartering skills get back home after a shipwreck.
- Coin Box – Five games in one from the National Council of Teachers of Math; categories include counting, collecting, exchanging, and making change.
- Rounding to the Nearest Dollar – Game designed by a teacher to learn rounding to the nearest dollar.
- Lemonade Stand – Make business decisions and earn money by running your own lemonade stand; three skill levels.
- Design Your Own Bill – Choose different colors, portraits, and other details to create your own style of money.
- Where in the World and What in the World is Money? – Find out more about the history of money around the world.
- S3 Online Game – (requires free registration) Learn to save, spend, and succeed with this game from the Center for Financial and Consumer Outreach.
- Nickelsburg – (requires free registration) From Indiana State University, this game covers everything from budgeting and goal-setting to giving.
- Perry's Pennies – Help the Bureau of Public Debt capture as much money as possible. Although there are three skill levels, even the easiest might be frustrating to younger kids.
- What Kind of Spender are You? – Take this quiz to find out what kind of spending habits you have.
- Feed the Pig – A saving and spending game for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.
- Sheppard Software (scroll down to Money Games)
- Working with Coins– Word problems with visual coin and bill cues
- Counting Money – Worksheet templates in Word or Excel format which include money clip art
- Intro to US Currency – (requires free registration) Basic introduction to coin and bill names and values.
- Money and Shopping from Math Fox – Nice collection of worksheets for kindergarten through seventh grade.
- Money Flashcards – This is a large file and may take some time to download.
- Counting Mixed Coins – Count the total amount for the groups of coins shown; includes a mixture of front and back views of coins.
- Money BINGO – Printable BINGO includes game boards and calling lists.
- US Coin Printables – Wide range of money printables including coin identification and sorting activities.
- Word Problems – Ten intermediate money word problems.
- Subtracting Money – Practice subtracting money for grades three through six; free registration required to print.