Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Penny Pinchers

Jennifer Slichter
Santa Rosa District Schools


This is an entertaining kindergarten lesson on money. Students are introduced to the penny and a classroom "toy store."


The student creates and acts out number stories using objects.

The student knows and compares the values of a penny (1 cent), nickel (5 cents), and dime (10 cents).

The student uses concrete objects to create a pattern.

The student understands the basic concept of exchanging money for goods.


-Toy cash register
-Bulletin board cutouts of one nickel, dime, quarter and 5 pennies.
-Ten pennies per student in ziploc bag.
-Small can of pennies
-Sunday paper ads/ and or toy advertisements
-Chalkboard or dry erase board
-Cover sheet
-Penny Pinchers Worksheet (One copy per student)
-[Corduroy] by Don Freeman (Illustrator), Richard Peck. ISBN: 0140501738
-Paper pennies
-Piggy bank


1. Borrow toy cash register and piggy bank.

2. Ask for a parent volunteer to put ten pennies per student in each plastic bag.

3. Prepare a small can of pennies.

4. Collect Sunday sale ads or toy advertisements.

5. Make copies of worksheet, Penny Pinchers. One per student.

6. Collect large bulletin board cutouts of pennies.

7. Obtain copy of the book, [Corduroy].

8. Make students a privacy screen they are able to use year round. Use poster paper cut in half and folded three ways so that it stands up. Make enough to have one per student to use throughout the year.

9. Make paper pennies to distribute to students. These pennies will be spent in the toy store.


NOTE: This is day 1 of the unit, Common Cents. If doing the complete unit, administer the Diagnostic Assessment beforehand.

1. Introduce lesson on money by holding up a piggy bank. Ask students to guess what is in the bank. Ask students what they like to do with money. Get responses. Tell students that they are going to learn about money this week.

2. Introduce the classroom toy store called Common Cents Toy Store. (This store consists of small inexpensive toys, castaways donated by parents, free toys in kid’s meals, or toys from a classroom treasure chest, each toy having different prices. The center also consists of a toy register with toy money.) Tell students they are going to have the opportunity to “earn” money this week and to buy an item in the store at the end of the week. Students earn toy change during the week for good behavior, having a clean desk, games won, etc. Students demonstrate responsibility by not losing coins. Be sure to review responsibility.

3. Read the book, [Corduroy], to the class. Introduce the concept of saving money. Discuss how the little girl saved her money to get what she wanted.

4. Introduce the word penny. Write penny on the board. Hold up a large bulletin board cutout of the penny. Tell students that the penny is worth one cent. Demonstrate how to write one cent on the board

5. Discuss characteristics of the penny such as color, shape, which president is on the penny. Play a stand-up, sit-down game using large bulletin board cutouts of coins. Students stand if penny is held up and sit if another coin is held up.

6. Pass out plastic bags to students, each having 10 pennies per bag. Demonstrate to the class how to make a penny pattern using the front and back of the penny. Have the students take out their pennies and make a pattern. Walk around and monitor giving formative feedback. Class puts pennies back in bag.

7. Demonstrate how to make sets of pennies to the class. Hold up one penny. Ask the class how many pennies are being held up? When volunteer says one, have him or her come to the board and write one cent. Count five pennies out with the class and put them in your hand. Ask for a volunteer to come to the board and write how many cents you have in all.

8. Demonstrate concepts of more than, less than and equal using volunteers and sets of pennies. Have students tell a number story about more than, less than or equal. For example, this is John. He has four pennies. This is Mary. She has 6 pennies. Mary has more pennies than John.

9. Tell students to make a set of pennies that equals 5 cents. Walk around and monitor and demonstrate to the class that 5 pennies = 5 cents. Let students make sets of pennies with several different amounts up to 10. To generate interest, let students “race” to see who can make sets the quickest and with the most accuracy. When completed, they put their heads down. The row that is quickest receives the most points and earns the first coin (paper penny) of the week.

10. Introduce the game, Penny, to the class. Divide the class into 2 to 4 equal teams using rows or tables. Questions are asked concerning the penny. Each group takes a turn coming to the front. They answer a question and earn one letter from the word penny, if the question is answered correctly. The first group to spell penny and earn all 5 letters wins the game and earns a point for their row. Remind class that the row that gets the most points today receives the coin (paper penny).

11. Ask the following questions for the game, penny pinchers:
1) How can I use money in our store?
2) Who can tell me a number story using pennies?
3) Who can show me a pattern with their pennies?
4) How much money is one-penny worth?
5) Who can write one cent on the board?
6) Ask for a volunteer to come to front and count out five pennies to the class and write 5 cents on the board.
7) Ask for a volunteer to come to the front and count out six pennies to the class and write 6 cents on the board.
8) Ask for a volunteer to come to the front and count out 8 pennies to the class and write 8 cents on the board.
9) Ask for a volunteer to come to front and count out 9 pennies to the class and write 9 cents on the board.
10) Ask for a volunteer to count out 10 pennies and write 10 cents on the board.
11) Ask students to tell you which group has more- a group of five pennies or a group of two pennies. Ask for a volunteer to answer.
12) Which has less, a group of 8 pennies or a group of 2 pennies?
13) Guess how many pennies I am. I am more than 8 and less than 10.
14) Guess how many pennies I am. I am more than 4 and less than 6.
15) Guess how many pennies I am. I am more than 2 and less than 4.
16) I have 7 cents. Someone gives me a penny. How many cents do I have in all?
17) I have 5 cents. Someone gives me a penny. How many cents do I have in all?
18) I have 2 pennies. I lose one penny. How many pennies do I have now?
19) I have 5 pennies and someone gives me 2 more pennies. How many pennies do I have in all?

Use more questions if necessary. Remind students they may use the pennies in their Ziploc bags if they need help answering a question.

12. Divide the class into equal groups and tell students that they are going to look at sale papers from Sunday paper at their center. They are to pretend that they are going to buy an item of their choosing. They cut and glue the objects to their papers and pretend that they object costs less than 20 cents. They write down the amount that they want the object to cost.

13. Next, students return to their desks. They take turns coming to the front and creating and acting out number stories. They show the class what they want to buy, tell the class how much the object costs and demonstrate to the class how many cents they pay the “cashier.” When the first volunteer has had a turn, he becomes the cashier and the next student comes up. Proceed until everyone has had a turn. Evaluate using the attached rubric.

14. Pass out the formative assessment worksheet called Penny Pinchers.

15. Pass out the cover sheets made out of poster paper cut in half and folded three ways. This serves as a privacy screen.

16. Give directions for the formative assessment worksheet called Penny Pinchers. Walk around and monitor students to make sure they understand directions and are on task.

17. Collect worksheets and assess. Review worksheet with the class and have volunteers model correct answers.


Note: This lesson focuses on the penny and only the penny will be evaluated.

A formative assessment [worksheet] is used. (Step 16 of procedures.) Students create patterns using the front and back of a penny. They will also write the value of a penny, distinguish a penny from other coins and count sets of pennies using one to one correspondence. The students complete the worksheet with 80 % accuracy or are given more instruction and another opportunity to demonstrate ability to master the skills in the future.

In addition, students will be evaluated on their ability to create and act out a [number story] involving a penny. (Step 13 of procedures.) A rubric is used to evaluate this lesson. (Please use the rubric in the associated file.)

The following criteria will be used to evaluate students who demonstrate an understanding of the basic concept of [exchanging money for goods and services]. (Step 13 of the procedures.)
**A score of excellent is given to those students who demonstrate clearly that they must count and give their pennies away accurately in order to pay for their object.
**A score of good is given to those students who demonstrate an overall understanding that they must exchange their pennies for an object of their choosing. However, they might make a mistake in counting their change.
**A score of poor is given to the student who seems to lack an understanding that money must be given in exchange for goods. In this case, their pennies must be given in exchange for the object of choice. The student who scores poor will also not understand that the correct amount of change must be given.


1. A class story may be created after this lesson. For example "John bought ___ for ___ cents." Students read together and circle sight words.

2. The paper pennies should be given to students throughout the day for various activities. For example, staying in a straight line, remembering to raise their hands, cleaning their desks, etc.

3. Also, a reward system could be set up using paper toy money and inexpensive prizes during the year. This would give the students an opportunity to practice responsibility by not "losing their money" as well as practice math skills such as counting.

4. Staple sight words dimes, pennies and nickels on word wall under correct alphabet letter. Practice addding and subtracting skills using simple coin combinations in a number story. Have students listen for key words to determine if they need to add or subtract such as in all, total, have left, or difference.

5. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page. (Or by using the URL Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Attached Files

Penny Pinchers Worksheet     File Extension: pdf

Penny Pinchers Rubric     FFile Extension: pdf

Directions for Penny Pinchers Worksheet     File Extension: pdf

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