Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Budget Hungry

Donna Allen


Students create an expense budget for a meal at a restaurant. They learn the basic communication and etiquette skills needed to successfully go on a field trip to implement the budgets they created.


The student reads informational texts for specific purposes (including but not limited to performing a task, learning a new task, sequentially carrying out the steps of a procedure, locating information to answer a question).


-Menu from participating restaurant (McDonald's)
-Individual student notebooks
-3” x 5” Fluorescent index cards
-Dry erase board
-Dry erase marker
-Two hats from McDonald's
-Empty cup from McDonald's
-Big Mac box from McDonald's
-Empty french fry box from McDonald's
-Cash register (real or play)
-Play money
-Two empty desks
-Tax chart from your county/state


1. Collect needed materials (pencils, fluorescent index cards, dry erase markers, cash register, play money, student notebooks)
2. Make arrangements with McDonald’s manager for a class trip to their restaurant, ask for donations of paper cups, hats, Big Mac boxes, menus, and free food coupons. (You may choose any restaurant.)
3. Prepare lists of questions (either write on dry erase board or prepare worksheets for students).
4. Prepare food choice items of teacher choice with correct price including tax.
5. Prepare field trip forms (talk to your school about any needed paperwork).
6. Prepare for a bus for the field trip (talk to your school about any needed paperwork).
7. Recruit chaperones to go on the field trip with your class.
8. Talk to your local PTA or PTSA for grant funding for your field trip (or you may choose to have students pay for their food).
9. Locate tax chart for your county/state. (Internet is a good search tool.)


1. Introduce the activity by asking the students, “Has anyone ever been to McDonald's?” (You can choose any restaurant; fast food restaurants are common and usually gain the attention of students.)

2. Ask students to think about what they would order if they were at McDonald’s right now. (Give students 1 or 2 minutes to think about it.) Ask students to raise their hands and give you some of the different foods you can find at McDonald’s. Write down some food choices on the dry erase board for the entire class to see. (This will help students gain an idea of the different types of food that are served.)

3. While passing out index cards walk around the room and ask students to write down their responses, (remind them not to shout out their choices).

4. Now ask the students if they have ever created a budget. Explain to the students that they will be designing a budget to eat a meal at McDonald's and that they will be given the opportunity to go on a field trip to spend their money. (You may want to review what a budget is before you continue.) Explain that they have to use addition, subtraction, and multiplication to figure out the correct price, including the tax and change for their purchase. Pass out ready-made tax chart. (You will also want to mention that you will be working on proper etiquette before the field trip.) (If you are unable to take the students on a field trip, you may role-play by letting the students pretend to be customers at a restaurant.)

5. Use the dry erase board and do a practice problem for the students to see. (Teacher should prepare her choice of food and price it the day before to model for students.)

6. Now that every student has made their choice, ask them to estimate the price that they think it will cost for their meal and have them write down the price on their cards.

7. Hand out a menu to each student. Ask them to locate their food choice item and record it next to their estimated price.

8. Observe the students’ reactions when they see the differences between their estimation and the real price.

9. Now tell the students that they have a five dollar maximum allowance for food. (Some students will have to adjust their order at this point.)

10. After modeling a problem for the students ask them to figure out the cost of tax (using the tax charts provided) for their food choice. (Some students might need extra help with this. Continue to walk around the classroom and observe students.)

11. After every student has figured out their correct tax, have them figure out the change they will receive. (Note if students go over the five dollar allowance instruct them to modify their choice of food. You may need to model another problem for some students.)

12. After all the students have completed their budget on index cards, pass out their notebooks. Instruct the students to record their completed budget in their notebooks. (Make sure you see them individually to check for accuracy before any results are recorded.)

13. Have the students share with a small group their completed budgets. This will give every student the opportunity to correct all mistakes or change their food choice items.

1. Review the students’ budgets and commend them for a job well done. Have students fix any problems that may need work. (Pass back all notebooks at this time.)

2. Explain to the students that you will be doing a little role-playing today. Select two students to help you. Have the first student pretend to be an employee at McDonald's. (Have them stand behind an empty desk while wearing the McDonald's hat.)

3. Have the second student stand behind an empty desk in front of the register. (Also wearing a McDonald's hat, working as an employee.)

4. Quietly inform the two students that you (the teacher) will be acting like a customer ordering a meal at McDonald's using non-etiquette behaviors.

5. Explain to the class that they need to decide if the customer is using proper etiquette or not.

6. Write down the following questions on the dry erase board. Instruct them to write down their responses in their notebooks, after the role-play is completed. (Review each question to give students an idea of what to look for before the role-play begins.)
a. Was the customer friendly?
b. Was the customer prepared?
c. Did the customer count the correct change?
d. Did the customer use proper voice control?
e. Did the customer use proper manners? (Please, Thank-you, You're welcome)
f. Did the customer clean up after herself?

7. Role-play the following: The teacher should exaggerate a bit by being loud, rude, and unprepared. Pretend to take a long time to order, pretend not to have enough money and re-order your food, do not use manners, then while pretending to eat, act unruly and leave garbage on the table and floor.

8. When role-play is finished, engage the students in a conversation about the incidences that occurred.

9. Tell the students to write down what they observed, by answering the above questions in their notebooks.

10. Have a class discussion regarding the customer’s actions while at the restaurant. Ask students to give you suggestions on how the customer should have acted. Explain the importance of being prepared and having proper etiquette.

11. Now give an example of proper etiquette behavior using role-play again. (Teacher should re-play the part of the customer using good manners, proper voice control, being prepared and cleaning up after themselves.)

12. Collect budget notebooks for review by teacher.

13. Remind students that budgeting is an important part of life, and is a very useful skill to learn. Also remind students about the importance of proper etiquette.

1. Begin with passing out budget notebooks.

2. Review proper etiquette, and what behaviors are expected of each student.

3. Explain that each student is responsible for using their pre-planned budgets to buy their food, and they will be expected to use all the proper manners they have learned.

4. Take students on bus and head out to McDonald's.

5. Observe students as they order their food and how they treat the restaurant employees.

6. When you return to school have students take out their budget notebooks and write down how their field trip went. (Did they budget correctly? Did they use proper etiquette? Did they clean up after themselves? Were they friendly? Did they use proper voice control?)

7. Collect budget notebooks for teacher review.

8. Discuss with the class the events of the day. Let students share their experiences with each other. If any problems occurred discuss what can be done to correct them for the next field trip.

9. Explain to students that you would like them to reflect on their actions, the actions of others, and any other events that may have occurred. Ask them for their feedback. (Make it optional for them to write a reflection paper when they get home to be turned in the next day.) Students may include a thank-you letter to the manager and employees of McDonald's. (Students who choose to turn in a reflection paper will receive free food coupons to return to McDonald's at a later date. Teacher should not tell students of a reward.)


Formatively assess the students using the following criteria:
- The student interprets visual information to read a menu.
- The student applies mathematical concepts to develop a budget.
- The student initiates communication and responds effectively while ordering at a restaurant.


1. Teacher can extend this lesson into an entire unit. The teacher can go into more detail about finances, budgeting, and proper etiquette.
2. The rewards given to those students who turned in a completed reflection paper will have set an example to those students who did not. Those students who did not receive a reward might be enticed to do a reflection paper next time.

1. Calculators may be used for students who are at a lower math level.
2. Continue role-play with a student who may not comprehend as well as the rest of the class.
3. Computers may be used to type answers for those students who are unable to write.
4. Questions may be typed onto worksheets to enable students a better visual aid.
5. An aide may be required to chaperone a student.
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