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McREL Standards Activity

Counting Coins

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be identify coin values to provide requested amounts.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 4.Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of measurement
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 3. Knows processes for telling time, counting money, and measuring length, weight, and temperature, using basic standard and non-standard units
 Standard 2.Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of numbers
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 3. Understands symbolic, concrete, and pictorial representations of numbers (e.g., written numerals, objects in sets, number lines)
Student Product:Worksheet
Material & Resources:
  • Fake coins (e.g., plastic, cardboard)
  • Small containers to hold the coins
  • Construction paper
  • Markers
Teacher's Note:It is not necessary to introduce decimals when using "cents" in this activity.

Before class:
Make "price tags" for various objects in the classroom (or objects you’ve brought in) by printing the name of the object and its price in cents on construction paper; tape the tags to the respective objects.  Place a small container with a generous assortment of fake coins next to each priced object.

Prepare a worksheet that includes a space for students to write the object’s name, price, and the number (quantity) of each type of coin used; do this for five objects.  

In class:
Begin by reviewing the value of the various coins.  Have students "warm up" by counting different combinations of coins.  

Tell the class that you’ve decided to "sell" numerous objects in the room; they are each going to "buy" five of them.  But you will not make change, so they need to come up with the exact amount for each object.

Students should then visit five different priced objects.  They should use the provided coins to arrive at a combination that exactly sums to the object’s price.  They should complete the worksheet for each object they visit by filling in the object’s name, its price, and recording the quantity of each type of coin they used to reach a sum equal to the object’s price. Show students how to spell out or abbreviate coin names: pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters.


  1. Only provide a portion of the coins necessary to "pay for" the object; have students figure out exactly how much more money they need and determine a corresponding combination of coins.
  2. Instead of displaying each object’s price, simply place an assortment of coins that sums to the price next to the object.  Then the students must count the coins and write the corresponding price on their worksheet.

When using these alternatives, it is recommended that you also include a drawing of the coin assortment, in case some of the fake coins go missing.