Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Piggy Pockets

Kelly Toomey


Students work cooperatively to formulate estimates and calculate exact totals when dealing with money. They keep a checkbook ledger to illustrate totals in their piggy pockets.


The student solves real-world problems involving estimated measurements, including the following: length to nearest quarter-inch, centimeter; weight to nearest ounce, gram; time to nearest one-minute interval; temperature to nearest five-degree interval; and money to nearest $1.00.


-Library pockets (various colors)
-Play money (bills and coins)
-Overhead transparency markers
-Copies of Checkbook Ledger (See Associated File)
-Copies of Piggy Prints (See Associated File)


The teacher needs to:
1. Make copies of piggy print (one per group).
2. Glue piggy prints to the front of the library pockets.
3. Laminate the pockets for durability.
4. Make one copy of the checkbook ledger for each student.
5. Place various amounts of play money in each group’s piggy pocket each day before the beginning of math.
6. Make sure that you have enough overhead markers for each group.


1. Lesson introduction: Begin with discussion of how to determine whether to give accurate or estimated answers when dealing with money.

2. Discuss with students vocabulary such as deposit, checkbook ledger, estimate, exact amount, and balance.

3. Tell students that today we are going to practice estimating and formulating accurate answers involving money sums. Elicit from students some examples of situations in which they might make an estimate involving money. Also ask for examples in which an accurate money total is necessary.

4. By referring to student examples of each situation, introduce characteristics of both situations that should be an aid to the students in determining which process to utilize.

5. Ask students how many of them have a piggy bank. Explain that they each have the opportunity to use a piggy bank to make estimates and come up with accurate money sums.

6. Show students an example of a piggy pocket. Explain that each group receives their own piggy pocket. Each day at the beginning of the math period each group removes the money from their piggy pocket. As a group they make one estimate (to the nearest dollar) of the amount in their pocket by simply looking at it. Then they actually count the money to get an accurate amount.

7. With their overhead transparency marker, students write both the estimated amount as well as the actual amount on the front of their piggy pocket.

8. The teacher circulates and checks the studentsí estimates and accurate answers.

9. Discuss the purpose of a checkbook ledger and show students an example. (See associated file.) Explain that each student that receives correct answers will add the amount in their piggy bank to their ledger on a daily basis. This is referred to as a deposit. Discuss that estimates are appropriate in cases in which exact figures are not necessary. They are not appropriate for situations in which exact sums are needed like in keeping a checkbook ledger. Have students formulate reasons why exact amounts would be necessary in keeping a checkbook.

10. At the end of the week, students share and report on the totals in their piggy pockets. Teachers may allow students at the end of the week to take their total amount of money and use it to shop from the treasure box or school store. After purchasing an item, students make those adjustments to their ledgers as well.


After completing the Beacon Learning Center lesson, use the following assessment criteria:
Students are able to:
- Determine when it is appropriate to make estimates and when it is inappropriate.
Teacher assesses by observation and circulation.
- Make estimates with the assistance of their group members (to the nearest dollar).
Teacher assesses by circulating and by observing written amounts on piggy pockets (to the nearest dollar).
- Add money sums to a checkbook ledger to keep a running total of the amount in their piggy banks.
Teacher assesses by referring to deposit column of students’ checkbook ledger form. (See Associated File)
- Make accurate deductions from checkbook ledger after purchasing an item.
Teacher assesses by referring to deduction and balance columns of students’ checkbook ledger form. (See Associated File)


This lesson is designed for use on a daily basis during a mathematics unit on money. However, it may also be used as a daily review or for remediation. It is based on the assumption that students have prior knowledge on this subject. To individualize instruction further, the teacher may color-code the library pockets to meet varying levels and abilities in the classroom. Students can work through the levels beginning with the easiest and concluding with the most difficult.

Web Links

Web supplement for Piggy Pockets
Math Education

Attached Files

This file contains the Checkbook Ledger form and Piggy Prints sheet.     File Extension: pdf

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