Math Background

Lesson: Count and Compare Money Amounts
Developing the Concept

As children become skilled counting money amounts, they will be able to begin comparing money amounts and solving money problems. Those skills will take children one step closer to being able to use money on their own.

Materials: bag of money for each child: 10 pennies, 5 nickels, 5 dimes, and 4 quarters; large coins to use on the blackboard

Preparation: Have a bag of money ready for each child.

Prerequisite Skills and Background: Children should be able to count money amounts of various coin collections; they also should be able to solve multistep problems.

Pass out a bag of coins to each child. Have children take all of the coins out and place them in piles on their desks.

  • Say: I am going to tell you a story about a boy named Zach. Zach had 2 quarters, 1 dime, 2 nickels, and 3 pennies. While Zach was cleaning his room, he found another dime and another nickel. At the store, he spent forty cents. How much money does Zach have left?
  • Ask: How can we solve this problem?
    Lead children to suggest the idea of using their coins to add and subtract the coins and amounts that Zach used.
  • Say: Yes, by using your coins, as I tell the story, you can find out how much money Zach has left. Let's talk through the story together. Get your coins ready.
  • Ask: How much money does Zach have now? (73¢)
  • Say: Let's start with the coins that Zach began with. He had 2 quarters, 1 dime, 2 nickels, and 3 pennies. Take those coins and move them to a part of your desk away from the other coins. Now let's add the coins Zach found in his bedroom: another dime and another nickel.
    2 quarters, 1 dime, 2 nickels, and 3 pennies
  • Ask: How much does Zach have right now?
    (88¢)
  • Say: Now let's take away the amount he spent at the store. He spent forty cents at the store.
  • Ask: Which coins should we take away from the group of coins?
    (one quarter, one dime. and one nickel)
  • Say: Now let's look at the coins Zach has left.
  • Ask: How much money does he have left?
    (48¢)
  • Ask: How did using your coins help you to solve this problem?
    Children should suggest how using their money helped them to solve the problem step by step.

    Repeat this problem-solving routine with several other stories, and allow students to create their own stories for the class to solve.

Wrap-Up and Assessment Hints
Counting money is a difficult skill for children to master. They need as much practice and hands-on experience as they can get. Provide them with as many opportunities as possible to help them develop this skill. Remind children to start counting with the coins of highest value and to count on each coin that follows. Allow children to use coins to solve multistep problems so that they will become familiar with the various steps needed to solve a problem.


Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 2