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Show Me the Money


Students will each make their own Money Wallet or Money Purse and then participate in a variety of money-related activities.


Instructional Procedures

Center #1 Heads or Tails Tally

Center #2 Piggy Bank Sorting

Center #3 Money Cube Graph

Center #4 My Mini Book of Coins

Center #5 Toys and Treats

Additional Resources


  • 20 Instant Math Learning Centers Kids Will Love!, by Traci Ferguson Geiser and Krista Pettit; ISBN 0439227291 (Scholastic)
  • 26 Letters and 99 Cents, by Tana Hoban; ISBN 068814389X
  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst; ISBN 0689711999
  • All About Money, by Erin Roberson; ISBN 0516246720
  • Benny's Pennies, by Pat Brisson; ISBN 0440410169
  • Berenstain Bears & the Trouble with Money, by Stan and Jan Berenstain; ISBN 0679812717
  • Bunny Money, by Rosemary Wells; ISBN 014056750X
  • Centered on Success Grade K, by the Mailbox; TEC 60819
  • The Coin Counting Book, by Rozanne Lanczak Williams; ISBN 0881063258
  • Counting Money, by Julie Dalton; ISBN 0516253611
  • Dimes, by Mary Hill; ISBN 0516251694
  • Dollars, by Mary Hill; ISBN 0516251708
  • File Folder Centers Math Grs. K-1, by The Mailbox; TEC60923
  • Hands-On Math: K-1, by Virginia Johnson (Edited by Janet Bruno); ISBN 3055402600 (CTP 2600)
  • Instant Math Centers: K-1, by Creative Teaching Press; ISBN 1574716891 (CTP 2597)
  • Just a Piggy Bank, by Mercer Mayer; ISBN 0307132838
  • Learning Center Collection Math Grade K, by The Mailbox; TEC 60863
  • Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes; ISBN 0439642876
  • The Magic Money Box, by Rozanne Lanczak Williams; ISBN 1574710095
  • Mathematics Their Way, by Mary Baratta-Lorton; ISBN 020186150X
  • Mathematics Their Way Summary Newsletter, by Cynthia Garland; ISBN 0201861542 (Available free online at
  • Math: Make It Your Way, by Keri King, and Kari Sickman (Edited by Teri L. Fisch; ISBN 1574718991 (CTP 2576)
  • Math Tub Topics: K-2, by Creative Teaching Press; ISBN 1574719548 (CTP 2812)
  • Nickels, by Mary Hill; ISBN 0516251716
  • Pennies, by Mary Hill; ISBN 0516251724
  • The Penny Pot, by Stuart J. Murphy; ISBN 0064467171
  • Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money, by Amy Axelrod; ISBN 0689812191
  • Quarters, by Mary Hill; ISBN 0516251732
  • Shoe Box Learning Centers: Addition & Subtraction: 30 Instant Centers, by Jacqueline Clark; ISBN 0439537940
  • Take it to Your Seat Math Centers K-1, by Jill Norris; ISBN 1557999317
  • Workjobs, by Mary Baratta-Lorton; ISBN 0201043114


  • Arthur's Money Matters DVD, by Sony Wonder; ASIN B0006IIO18
  • Is Everybody Happy? by Dr. Jean Feldman (
  • Kiss Your Brain, by Dr. Jean Feldman (
  • Math in Motion, by Jack Hartmann (; Item #CD-13
  • Rockin Learn: Money and Making Change DVD, by Rock 'n Learn; ASIN B000GI3KN0
  • Totally Math, by Dr. Jean Feldman
  • Two Little Sounds--Fun with Phonics and Numbers, by Hap Palmer; ASIN: B0001DD3VO
  • We All Live Together, Vol. 3, by Greg and Steve; ASIN: B00000DGMV


  • National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1509 16th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20036 (202) 232-8777 or (800) 424-2460,
  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191- 1502 (703) 620-9840,

Background for Teachers

Kindergartners need repeated exposure to money and money concepts. Most children know something about money when they begin kindergarten. Most students know you need money to buy things, and they know their parents earn money by going to work. Many children know that a quarter is used to buy candy out of a candy machine or they need two quarters for a soda pop. Kindergartners usually do not have a complete understanding of the value of money. For example, most children think a nickel is worth more than a dime because of its size.

The penny is a copper-plated coin with a smooth edge. Benjamin Franklin designed the very first "Indian Head" penny in 1787. The penny we use today, with Abraham Lincoln (our 16th President), on the front has been in circulation since 1909 (the 100th Anniversary of the Lincoln's birth). The back of the penny had two ears of wheat at that time. In 1959, the Lincoln Memorial was added to the back of the penny. Today, the front of the penny includes the words "In God We Trust" and "Liberty." It also has the year and mint mark (D=Denver, S=San Francisco, P=Philadelphia). The back of the penny today has an imprint of the Lincoln Memorial, "United States of America," "One Cent," and "E Pluribus Unum (one of many, one)."

The very first nickel was an "Indian Head/Buffalo" nickel. The nickel we use today, with Thomas Jefferson (our 3rd President) on the front was first made in 1938 with Monticello on the reverse side. The nickel is made of a mixture of nickel and copper and has a smooth edge. The front of the nickel has the words "In God We Trust" and "Liberty" along with the mint year and mark. The back of the nickel has Jefferson's home--Monticello--along with "E Pluribus Unum," "Monticello," "Five Cents," and "United States of America."

The very first dime was the "Liberty Head." Franklin D. Roosevelt (our 32nd President) has appeared on the front of the dime since 1946. The dime was made of silver until 1965 and is now made of a mixture of nickel and copper. The edge of the dime has 188 ridges. The front of the dime also includes the words "In God We Trust" and "Liberty" along with the mint year and mark. The back of the dime has a torch (symbolizing liberty) in the middle, an olive branch (symbolizing peace) to its left, and an oak branch (symbolizing strength and independence) to its right. The words "E Pluribus Unum," "Ten Cents" and "United States of America" are also on the back of the dime.

The "Liberty" was our very first quarter. The George Washington (our 1st President) quarter was first minted in 1932. The quarter was first made of silver until 1965 when they began making the quarter of a copper and nickel mixture. The quarter has 119 ridges along its edge. The front of the quarter includes the words "Liberty", "In God We Trust," and the mint year and mark. The back of the quarter has an eagle with outstretched wings and our Presidential Coat of Arms. The words "United States of America", "E Pluribus Unum," and "Quarter Dollar" are inscribed on the back of the quarter. A quarter for each of the 50 states will be minted to celebrate each state's symbols, history, and traditions. Utah's quarter will be coming out this year (2007).

Please note that this activity would not be the first activity you would use to teach money. Most teachers usually introduce and study each coin for a day or two before introducing the next coin. This activity may be completed in one day but can easily be extended over two or three days.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.
2. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
3. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.

Instructional Procedures

Invitation to Learn

Pose this question to the class: What would you buy if you won $1000? Invite students to think for a minute about their answer, share their answer with one partner, and then have a few students share their response with the entire class.

Instructional Procedures

  1. Review the terms in the Money Vocabulary Word Bank with the class, especially the names of each of the coins: penny, nickel, dime, and quarter.
  2. Students will each make their own Money Wallet or Money Purse. First, give each student a copy of the Penny, Nickel, Dime and Quarter sheet. (You will want to hand each student one sheet at a time so they do not confuse the heads and tails of each coin.) Students will cut out the head and tail of each coin and glue them together to make the head and tail coin. When they are done, they should have four coins (a penny, nickel, dime and quarter).
  3. To make a wallet (for the boys) give each boy a full sheet of construction paper. They will fold their paper almost in half hotdog style (have them fold it 1/2 inch from the top). Keeping their paper hotdog style on their tables, they will staple the left and right sides to make a long pocket. They will fold their paper in half again (hamburger style) to make their wallet (the shorter piece inside the wallet). Students can then label their wallet with their name (e.g., John's Wallet).
  4. To make a purse (for the girls) give each girl a half sheet of construction paper. They will fold their paper in thirds. Staple two sections together along the side so they have a flap to open their purse to put their money in. A 24-inch piece of string or yarn could also be added to make a shoulder strap for their purse. They could also round the corners on their flap and add their name (e.g., Maria's Purse).
  5. The students will bring their Money Wallet to the meeting area to learn the song "Show Me the Money." During the song, encourage your students to hold up the appropriate coin during the song.
  6. Students will then return to their tables and write in their Money Journal, which is made of a cover and eight to 10 sheets of plain paper. Give them the scenario that they are each given eight cents to spend. Ask, "If you had 8¢, what would you buy?" Post an enlarged copy of 8¢ Money Chart (blown up on poster board or an overhead transparency) for students to record in their journals what they would purchase with their money.
  7. After students have concluded writing in their Money Journal, they can choose a Money Center activity.

Center #1 Heads or Tails Tally

  1. Students will get a Heads or Tails Tally Recording Sheet and the corresponding coin from the box.
  2. Students will shake their coin.
  3. Students will determine if the heads of the coin is face up or the tails.
  4. Students will then write a tally mark under the correct
  5. Students will shake their coin again and continue the activity until Math Centers are over.

Center #2 Piggy Bank Sorting

  1. Students will choose a Piggy Bank Sorting Mat.
  2. Students will grab a handful of coins from the container and sort them according to their value.
  3. Students will draw a picture of their favorite coin on the Favorite Coin Recording Sheet.
  4. Students will then write the value of their favorite coin.

Teacher Preparation: Copy Piggy Bank Sorting Mat on cardstock and laminate.

Center #3 Money Cube Graph

  1. Students will roll a Money Cube.
  2. Students will use coin stamps to record which coin or symbol they rolled on their Money Cube Graph recording sheet.
  3. Students will continue rolling their cube until one column is totally full.

Teacher Preparation: Affix stickers (or stamps) of a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter on a side of wooden cube. On the two remaining sides, draw a cent sign and a dollar sign. If using stickers, brush the entire cube with several coats of clear fingernail polish so students cannot pick off the stickers.

Center #4 My Mini Book of Coins

  1. Students will rub the head of a penny with the side of a brown crayon on the 1¢ page of their My Mini Book of Coins.
  2. Students will rub the tail of a penny with the side of a brown crayon on the other 1¢ page of their My Mini Book of Coins.
  3. Students will use the side of gray crayon to rub the head of nickel on the 5¢ page of their book.
  4. Students will continue with the tail of a nickel and both sides of the dime and quarter using a gray crayon.

Teacher Preparation: Copy My Mini Book of Coin Covers on cardstock or regular paper for your class (one sheet for every eight students). Copy My Mini Book of Coins pages on regular paper (one per student). Cut the pages along the lines and collate the books (one cover, 1¢, 1¢, 5¢, 5¢, 10¢, 10¢, 25¢, 25¢). Staple books on the left side.

Center #5 Toys and Treats

  1. Students will choose an item (small items from the Class Treasure Chest or Prize Box like pencils, erasers, small cars, plastic bracelets, plastic rings, suckers, candy, etc.) to pretend to purchase from a box.
  2. Students will count out the correct number of pennies to purchase the item.
  3. Students will record on their Toys and Treats Sales Receipt the item they purchased and how much it cost.
  4. Students will return the item to the box and choose a new item to purchase. Teacher Preparation: Gather items from around the classrooms students can pretend to purchase. Make little price tags for each item from 1¢ to 10¢.


  • Advanced learners could be given opportunities to add coins together during centers.
  • You can incorporate money in several Dramatic Play Centers. You could add a cash register, play money and price tags in a grocery store, bakery, or shoe store. You could also include plastic money at a bus station, train station, or airport.
  • Science: Have coins and magnifying glasses available at the science center for students to study. Encourage students to find specific items on our coins like the year, mint mark, Abraham Lincoln sitting in the Lincoln Memorial, etc.
  • Shared Book: Make Big Books, charts, and/or posters of the songs and chants you use to teach money.

Family Connections

  1. At the end of your money unit, send the Money Wallets or Purses home with your students.
  2. Encourage your students to share their Money Journal with their families at the end of your money unit.

Assessment Plan

  • During the song, observe students as they pick out the correct coin. Are they able to find it quickly on their own? Are they looking at their classmates for help? Make a note of any students who are struggling to identify the correct coin.
  • During Math Centers, walk around and make notes of student behaviors, conversations, and/or thought processes you observe. Note any areas of difficulty or mastery of money.
  • Student's recording sheets can be collected for assessment and placed in a portfolio.
  • Observe students and listen to the interaction and conversation they are having during Math Centers.


Research Basis

Burns, M. (2006). Marilyn burns on the language of math. Instructor Magazine. April 2006, 41-43.

Math vocabulary words need to be taught to students using "a variety of methods...including intentional, explicit instruction of specific vocabulary words". With each mathematics unit, teachers can identify words students need to be able to understand for each lesson. Words can be posted in the classroom for students to use as a reference throughout the unit.

Drum, R.L., & Petty, Jr., W.G. (1999). Teaching the values of coins. Teaching Children Mathematics, 5(5), 264-268.

When teaching children about coins and money, it is very important to use manipulatives and/or actual coins when learning to identify coins and their names. Using normal sized models (real or plastic) of each coin is effective in teaching coin identification. When teaching the values of coins, teachers should begin using "proportionate models" (one square= 1 cent, 5 squares= 5 cents, etc.) of each coin and their respective values.

Moyer, J. (1999). ACEI Position Paper: The child-centered kindergarten. Association for Childhood Education International. Retrieved November 24, 2006, from

An activity-centered classroom is "a far richer and more stimulating environment than one dominated by pencil-and-paper, teacher-directed tasks." A developmentally appropriate kindergarten classroom is equipped with manipulatives and hands-on activities, which engage children in their learning. Children need to have sustained amounts of time to learn, explore, communicate with peers and ask questions. Using "individual, small group, large group, role- enactment activities, and activity centers" are great strategies to use while teaching a kindergarten class.

Ringgenberg, S. 2003. Using music as a teaching tool: Creating story songs. Young Children, 58(5): 76-79.

Music is a part of children's lives each and every day. Using music helps children retain information and learn new vocabulary, especially if it is sung to a familiar tune. Adding movement or visual aids to a song allows children the opportunity to use a variety of senses.

Created: 06/22/2007
Updated: 02/04/2018