Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Allowance Time

Janet Harrigan


Students use pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to show different ways to reach the same three digit total. Students use coin values to record data and to apply knowledge.


The student represents equivalent forms of the same number through the use of concrete materials (including coins), diagrams, and number expressions.

The student counts coins using `mixed` counting (using coin values of 50, 25, 10, 5, and 1).


-Play money, (pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and a dollar)for students to use
-Overhead coins and dollar bill
-Overhead projector
-Computer with Internet access and Websites bookmarked (see Websites) Optional


1. Assemble all materials. You may want to put the coins into plastic baggies ahead of time and then give each group a bag.
2. Copy the Allowance Worksheet--one for each group of two students and one for each individual student. You might want extras in case students need to start over.
3. Create a transparency of the Allowance Worksheet or redraw it on the overhead.
4. To use the US Mint site, you must have the current version of Flash installed on the computers. Websites listed in this lesson offer games using coins, as well as information about coins in general. Students who are having difficulty may enjoy using these sites individually. Whole group instruction with them is also feasible. (See Weblinks)


1. Review the value of dollar mentioning the different things that can be purchased using a dollar, such as, the new gel pens, cool looking erasers and a favorite piece of candy. You may also want to discuss the importance of saving.

2. Discuss the differences between the coins, for example pennies and dimes. Show overhead coins and allow students to discuss the values. You may want to review the words, penny, nickel, dime quarter, dollar,

3. Ask students: how many of you receive an allowance? How often? Once a week? When you do extra chores?

4. Discuss the following scenario:

Jason’s mother wants to give him a dollar allowance each week for ten weeks. In order to receive the allowance each week Jason must figure a different way of receiving his allowance on the worksheet that his mother provided.

Show the overhead copy of the Allowance Worksheet to students. Ask students for one way to use coins to make $1.00. Have a student demonstrate it with the overhead coins and count the value of the coins aloud. Make sure that the students understand how to state the values of the coins and then check to see if they equal a dollar. Show students how to record this collection of coins on the worksheet.

5. Divide students into groups of two. Distribute activity materials (play money, allowance worksheets-one per group, and pencils). Explain that answers will vary as there are many combinations.

6. Circulate and offer modeling and feedback to help students. Listen as they count the coin values and note those that are having difficulty.

7. After students have completed the activity have them compare answers and chart on the overhead the different combinations of coins that make up a dollar. Groups should volunteer one combination to put on the overhead chart and count the coin values aloud as they do so. Allow students to correct their own papers with a different color pen, including the names of both members of the group. Formatively assess the corrections and problems before moving to the next step. (Step 8 should probably take place another day.)

8. Once you feel that the students understand and have a good grasp on counting coins, give them the Allowance Worksheet individually to complete. Some students may need the coin manipulatives. Note those students. They may need more practice. As they finish, allow them to quietly count the coin values of one solution aloud to you, or if students are familiar with writing cents, they can write the value of the coins below each blank. (For instance, a student who says that 10 nickels, 1 quarter, two dimes and five pennies = $1.00 would then say or write the values: 10 nickels = 50 cents, 1 quarter = 25 cents, two dimes = 20 cents, 5 pennies = 5 cents and they all add up to $1.00.)


1. Students self-assess by making correct entries of ten equivalent ways to write one dollar. Formatively assess students as they work by asking groups to count the values of the coins using the manipulatives. Note those who have difficulty--they will need extra instruction.
2. After students complete the group activity, positive feedback is provided when the teacher and students model the answers using the coins on the overhead. Again, note any individual students who have difficulty using the overhead coins to count the value.
3. Assess student mastery levels and non-mastery of the benchmarks listed by individual students correctly completing the worksheet problems and their ability to write ten equivalent yet different ways to equal one dollar. (See procedure #8 for guidelines.)


Use overhead coins and have students make all possible combinations on an overhead projector for all to see. Students can then repeat the combinations with real money and rank ordered them by weight. This gaves students an opportunity to practice the Process problem Solving strategy, “Make an Organized List.”

The lesson can be modified for kindergarten classes by constructing combinations of pennies, nickels and dimes up to 20 cents.

Web Links

Web supplement for Allowance Time
Brain Teaser: Loose Change

Web supplement for Allowance Time
Game: Puzzle Mint

Web supplement for Allowance Time

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