Beacon Lesson Plan Library

It Has to Balance

Laura Brown


Students use a price list and balance sheet to plan for a day of fun at the beach. They learn about expenses, income, outgo, and balancing of resources.


The student solves real-world problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, and addition, subtraction, and multiplication of decimals, fractions, and mixed numbers using an appropriate method (for example, mental math, pencil and paper, calculator).

The student creates a simple budget including income and expenses.


-Teacher-made sheets (see Attached Files) copied for students


-Copy the attached file for the students
-Decide the amount of money that you, the bank, will loan each group. You may decide to give each group the same amount or allocate it according to the # of group members, etc.


Day 1
The teacher distributes the Does It Balance? worksheet to the students. The teacher gives a definition and example of an expense, income, and balance for a simple budget. List the words and their definitions on the board. Discuss with students the importance of budgeting. Relate to the students which of these terms would indicate which math operation. Expense-subtraction; Income-addition; Total cost-multiplication of quantity purchased by the cost of each unit.

The teacher sets the following scenario for the class. -You and three of your friends are spending the day at the beach.- The teacher sets an amount of money to be borrowed for each person (income). The teacher will need to have an artificial list of supplies made up on chart paper for this practice (see A Blast at the Beach? list in Attached File). The supply list will need to have a cost for each item. The supplies need to be items that encourage students to buy multiples of the items (expenses). Give an example, such as one supply may be a can of coke for $0.30. The student would purchase one or two for each person, hence 4x $0.30. As a whole class, the students choose one item they want to purchase for the trip. Demonstrate how to multiply it times 3 or 4 (number of friends on the trip). The teacher writes it on his/her chart as an example of how to fill out the budget balance sheet.


1. Assign students to groups to complete the activity and spend their assigned income for the trip to the beach. Allow them to use a calculator to check their totals. These sheets will be formatively assessed. If time allows, permit students to share what they purchased, pointing out that people will allocate their resources differently.
2. Students write a paragraph explaining what 'balancing' means. They should correctly use the terms discussed such as income, outgo, expenses, balance, etc. The paragraph should reflect that the student understands how a simple budget works.
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