Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Money Bags

Mary Ann Taylor
Bay District Schools


Students explore different combinations of coins that can be used for specified amounts of money using paper money and tree diagrams. Students write money amounts in different forms (expanded, standard, decimal).


The student reads, writes, and identifies decimal notation in the context of money.

The student translates problem situations into diagrams and models using whole numbers, fractions, and decimal notation in the context of money.


-Teacher-made large money bag
-Big Money coins
-Overhead projector
-Overhead pens
-Overhead coins
-Large supply of paper coins for each student or group of students (these can be bought or made by students)
-Chart paper


1. Money bag - This can be made from two pieces of cardboard cut in the shape of a large moneybag and glued on the edges or a large drawstring bag with the words -Money Bag- written on it.

2. If you don't have money available for the students to use, have them make their own the day before you begin this unit.


NOTE: This lesson does not teach or assess fractions.

Day 1
1. Review coin names and values.

2. Give each child a piece of white paper and a large variety of paper coins.

3. Show the class a large moneybag. Tell the students, I have $0.48 in my money bag. Ask, How many different combinations of coins can be made to equal $0.48?

4. Allow for several responses, and then pull the coins out of the moneybag for the class to see which combination was used. Be sure to stress that all the answers are correct.

5. Tell students that they will explore how many different combinations of money they can come up with for a specified amount.

6. Without letting your students see, put different coins in the moneybag that have a value of $0.63.

7. Repeat step three using $0.63 instead of $0.48. Have students use the coins in front of them to make as many different combinations as they can.

8. After giving the students a few minutes to work on this, call on several different students to give you their combinations. As each combination is stated, show it on the overhead by using the overhead coins.

9. Ask, How can I keep track of all the different combinations of coins used? Accept all possibilities. Then tell students that they will use a tree diagram to show the different possible combinations.

10. Write each combination given for $0.63 on a piece of chart paper by using a tree diagram. (Example in file) Have students copy and write the combinations using a tree diagram on their own piece of white paper.

11. Ask, Which combination of coins do you think I have in my moneybag? Ask for a show of hands as you read each combination. Then have a student pull the coins out of the moneybag for the class to see!

12. Have students keep their money and tree diagrams in their desks for tomorrow's lesson.

Day 2
1. Have students pull out their money and tree diagram for $0.63 from yesterday. Review the procedure used to make the tree diagram.

2. Ask, How many different ways could I write $0.63? Write each response on the top of yesterday's class tree diagram. Examples: sixty-three cents, 63 cents, 6 tens and 3 ones, and $0.63. Remind students to always put a 0 in the dollar's place when writing it like this.

3. Tell students they will work in groups today. Each group will have one piece of chart paper, a marker, a money amount to create with coins, and various coins. Say, Each group will make as many combinations of coins possible for their specified amount of money. Then they will make a tree diagram to show the different combinations, write all the different ways the amount can be written, and present it to the class tomorrow. Give groups 20 ­ 30 minutes to do this.

Day 3
1. Give each group five minutes to discuss and review their tree diagram amongst themselves.

2. Have each group present their findings to the class. Encourage the students to pay close attention to each groupšs presentation to see if they can come up with a combination that was missed.

3. After each group has finished, tell the students that tomorrow they will each make their own tree diagram for a specified amount of money. They will also be writing their amount in as many ways as possible.

Day 4
1. Review by making combinations of coins for a specific amount of money and writing the amounts in different ways.

2. Write different amounts of money on small pieces of paper, and put these in a bowl. Have each child pull a piece of paper out of the bowl. This is the amount the student will use to make their tree diagram. Also, have the students write the amount in as many different ways as possible (must have at least three). You can also do this by telling the whole class one amount that they will all use to make their own tree diagram. Monitor students often to be sure they are doing the assignment correctly.


NOTE: This lesson does not teach or assess fractions.
1. Students self-assess by making a tree diagram and writing the money value in expanded form, standard form, and decimal form.
2. After a group gives their presentation of their tree diagram and written money values, the other students will provide positive feedback to make sure the money values are correct.
3. Teacher assesses student mastery levels and non-mastery of the benchmarks listed by oral and written group presentations and by each child's completion of their own tree diagram and their ability to write the money amount in expanded form, standard form and decimal form.


1. Have groups come up with their own ways to present to the class the different combinations of coins used. Ex: Glue the money on the chart, use Venn diagrams, write the different money values with diffent colors of markers, make a skit, etc.
2. Make a game using coins and cards with money amounts written down in various forms for small groups or center activities.

Attached Files

An example of a money tree.     File Extension: pdf

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