Math Background

Lesson: Comparing Money Amounts
Introducing the Concept

Students learned the values of bills and coins in Grade 3. Now they can apply those skills to counting and comparing amounts of money.

Materials: play money for each group of students: $50, $20, $10, $5, and $1 bills; half-dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies

Preparation: Distribute play money to each group.

Prerequisite Skills and Background: Students should know the value of coins and bills and how to write amounts of money. Students should also be able to count by 5s, 10s, 20s, 25s, and 50s.

  • Say: Place two $20 bills, one $10 bill, two $5 bills, and three $1 bills side by side. Put the bills in order from greatest to least value.
  • Ask: Which bill has the greatest value? ($20 bill) Which bill has the least value? ($1 bill)
  • Say: Let's find the total value of the bills. Point to each bill as we count aloud, starting with the $20 bills.
    ($20.00, $40.00, $50.00, $55.00, $60.00, $61.00, $62.00, $63.00)
  • Ask: What is the total value of the bills? ($63)
  • Say: Now place one quarter, two dimes, two nickels, and five pennies side by side below the bills. Put the coins in order from greatest to least value.
  • Ask: Which coin has the greatest value? (quarter) Which coin has the least value? (penny)
  • Say: Let's find the total value of the coins by counting on from the quarter.
    Have students point to each coin as they count aloud: 25¢, 35¢, 45¢, 50¢, 55¢, 56¢, 57¢, 58¢, 59¢, 60¢.
  • Ask: What is the total value of the coins? (60¢) What is the total value of the bills and coins together? ($63.60)
    Write $63.60 on the board.
  • Say: Put those bills and coins aside. Show one $50 bill, one $10 bill, three $1 bills, one half-dollar, and one nickel side-by-side. Put the money in order from greatest to least value.
    Some students may line up all the bills and coins in one row. Others may put the bills in one row and the coins in another row. Either arrangement is acceptable.
  • Say: Let's find the total value of this collection of bills and coins. Where should we start?
    Students should say the $50 bill.
  • Say: Point to each bill and coin as we count aloud.
    $50.00, $60.00, $61.00, $62.00, $63.00, $63.50, $63.55
  • Ask: What is the total value of the bills and coins? ($63.55)
    Write $63.55 on the board.
  • Ask: Which amount is greater? ($63.60) How do you know?
    Some students may say that the dollars are equal and when you compare the cents, 60¢ is greater than 55¢. Accept any reasonable explanation.
  • Say: Add one nickel and two pennies to the collection.
  • Ask: Where did you place the nickel and pennies? Why?
    Students should know that by placing the nickel and pennies to the right of the other coins, it will be easy to count on from $63.55.
  • Say: Count on from $63.55.
    ($63.60, $63.61, $63.62)
  • Ask: Now what is the total value of the bills and coins? ($63.62)
  • Erase $63.55 and write $63.62 on the board.
  • Ask: Which amount is greater? ($63.62)
  • Ask: Are there any other combinations of bills and coins that equal $63.62?
    Have students make different combinations of coins and bills equal to $63.62 and share them with the class.

    Repeat this activity with other collections of money.


Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 4