Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Penny for Your Thoughts (Elementary)

Barbara Brown


Math (mentalor written, addition and division) and letter writing (narrativeor expository) are utilized in a real-world problem to assist other children.


The student uses concrete objects, paper and pencil, or mental mathematics to solve real-world equations with one unknown (such as, There are 28 students in the room, and 16 brought their lunches. How many are buying lunch?).


-Penny container
-Colored chalk


This activity and participation is made possible by Kiwanis International. They purchase SALT and distribute to third-world countries (where applicable). SALT is a needed mineral for the development of bones during childhood. For five cents enough SALT is purchased to SAVE one child (throughout his/her life time)and then distributed within third-world-countries. We simply send in our monies collected, once a week, and mail to Kiwanis International. They handle the purchase, and distribution of the SALT where needed. A cylinder can may be obtained through Kiwanis to collect the pennies throughout the week or purchase a cylinder shaped container of SALT, empty it out, make a slit in the top, and use that. The size of the SALT container is ABOUT the same size as the salt distributed, and it costs 5 cents. Go to the Kiwanis web site, to obtain additional background information and updates.


1) Go to the web site:, and if an LCD is availabe, use it to show the students this is an International Organization and the validity of this program.
2. Explain that for every 5 pennies collected, one child receives enough SALT to last his/her lifetime, in the prevention of bone deficiencies.
3. Talk about the difference in our economic society compared to the economic development of third world countries. Pick out a country you have been studying recently if it fits into the category of third-world and is impoverished.
4) Point out this (or these countries) on a world map. Talk about the geographic location. Talk about its resources, available and not available. Talk about our resources, local if you can, and the benefits of these resources.
5) Explain that the human body requires SALT for normal growth and development and without this mineral, bones (in particular) can not develop normally.
6) Invite students' comments, background knowledge (KWL), and thoughts on this type of international charity involvement.
7) May want to consider sending a note/letter home to parents for their input, ideas, and comments on this subject, as well as participation.
8) Put the container somewhere that the students will see daily, as a reminder.
9) Praise them heavily for their concern for others, their involvement at an early age, and keep reminding them of the benefits of this type of service (you may be molding future Social Workers or Peace Corp Volunteers).
10) Pick one day out of the week to do a whole group math problem with the pennies collected. Students may estimate the monies collected (mental math) and calculate the amount children saved that week (mental or paper math).
11) While the students are predicting the amount of monies collected and the number of students -SAVED- from IDD (Immune Deficiency Disorder), request two students to count the pennies collected. This may be done on a rotation basis so all may participate at a particular time. Once the sum has been calculated twice, meaning they obtained the same answer, have students write it on the board (use colored chalk if available for visual learners or to assist LD students). Set up the math problem (example: $7.02 was collected, $7.02 as the dividend, .05 as the divisor) calculate the quotient. As you can see, this problem will have a remainder. You may want to put the 2 cents leftover, or remaining, back into the cylinder to start again for next week.
12) As you work the problem on the chalkboard or overhead projector, encourage students to work this same problem on paper. See who can arrive with the answer the quickest. The quotient for this week's problem is 140 which equals to 140 children in third-world countries who will receive enough SALT to -SAVE- their bodies from that type of bone deficiency.
13) Give the students a -Pat on the Back- and speak to the topic of social and economic responsiblities we any age.
14) Write the amount of monies on the penny container and the number of students saved that particular week. Keep a running tally week-by-week and let the students know the GRAND TOTAL.
15) Finally, have the students write to a particular individual (friend, family member, teacher) and explain this program. Have them utilize standard Friendly Letter Format, and write the BODY of the letter in either a narrative format (telling a story) and expository format (explaining step by step procedures). They may work individually or cooperatively in groups in order to share ideas, recount events, or for support.
On a personal note.....we have saved 657 children.......aren't we Blessed.


Letter to other students encouraging them to participate or start penny collections of their own or within their classrooms.


Branch into other fund raisers that assist our children, locally or abroad. Write to others, outside our local area, for assistance and support. Monitor to whom and where the lettters are distributed. Plan your next science lesson in Rocks and Minerals, or prefix this lesson with that study. Also include the effects of SALT in the human body (too much or too little). Study the process of how SALT is obtained and processed. Study oceans and explain the necessity and uses of SALT within the ocean plant and animal lives.

Web Links

Web supplement for A Penny for your Thoughts
Kiwanis International Charity

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