Money, Money, Money!

Hello Blogging World!  Sorry that it has been so long since I posted.   If I were teaching 7th grade Social Studies, this could have been a cool post about a real life simulation of the Black Death and how it decimated a classroom in one week.  Alas, I am just teaching 6th grade, so consider this a warning; when the first kid bolts out of your classroom for the bathroom, just go ahead and make sub plans. 

Since I finally feel like a human being, I thought I would post about my promised money activity and do a double linky with Joanne's Spark Student Motivation
and Erin's Thursday Throw Down.
Do you remember how exciting it was to play with money?  You know, before it became a depressingly real thing in your life.  Play money was the best!  Since I have been teaching before the dawn of time, I have been able to "inherit" items from retiring teachers and those who were moving on.  One of my best finds was a tub full of play money.  I remember standing there in the lounge hugging the tub close and wondering why anyone would ever toss it out.  It was play money!  Over the years, I have used it to teach decimals and just life skills.  Last week, I got it out for an open-ended activity with my Intervention group.

Twice a week, I teach a small "7th period"  or Intervention class of 6th graders.  I really enjoy it because it allows me to really teach to what their needs are and not to the pacing guide.  Also, it allows me to try activities and lessons, that might end in disaster with a larger group.  With a smaller group, it is easier to switch gears and make adjustments if things go awry.  Sometimes, that is when the magic happens.

Before the kids came in, my TA and I counted out six groups of $170 in various denominations (including quarters and half dollars, for which we used little Dixie cups to sort and hold them).  We included only ONE twenty dollar bill.  All of this was laid out on the back table.  They squealed when they saw the money (very much like I did when I found it years ago in the lounge).  They zipped through the warm up.  No complaining about the timed drill, no fights over snacks, and who sat where, because there was money waiting to be played with on the back table.

I had them pair up, and gave them each a small piece of butcher paper to use a counting mat and scratch paper.  Then I gave them all of their money.  Before they could count it all, we reviewed what each denomination was worth - yes, this was necessary.  Then they had to count their money and give me a total.
This was so difficult for them!  I went around and "coached" them into grouping and then multiplying.  There were so many lessons that I could have pulled out of this, but I kept it simple for them.  After much checking, they discovered that they all had the same amount.  Their reactions were so funny!  

Then we talked about how many $20s they could get out of their $170 pile of money.  The immediate response was to hold up their only twenty dollar bill and argue that they only had one.  But finally, one student looked at me and said, "Eight?"  After he explained how he divided 170 by 20 to get his answer, he showed us all one way to make $20 without using their only twenty dollar bill, it was on!
For the remainder of the period, they counted and regrouped, talked with each other, shared ideas, and begged me for "change" to make it happen.  They quickly learned that to make it happen, they had to continually shift the money around, regroup their piles of $20. 
I had planned on them making a chart of their combinations and then comparing them with the other groups.  At the end of the period, we realized that we did not have time to the chart.  Because of my sick days, I only got to meet with them one day this week and they begged to play with the money again.  Since I was not exactly 100%, we went with something smaller.
Best $6.25 I ever spent!  My little group struggled with it, but loved it.  After the "Bingo" occurred, they had to add up their Bingo cards, and show me how they did it.  Needless to say, I got a little informal formative assessment done while they were adding up the decimals.  I let them add up the coins one at time, then I reminded them of how they had added up the money last week.  Some of them actually needed the play money to figure it out.

There are so many possibilities with play money!  My kids loved it, and were excited to be there working with me.  Several of them found me out doing my duty and asked me if we were getting the money out again.  We meet for 7th period after school on Thursdays and Fridays.  On a Friday afternoon, after school, they were bouncing with excitement about getting to do math.  Bazinga!  Interactive Motivation!

One last thing before I get going, Kelly of An Apple for the Teacher, is having her 300 Follower Giveaway this weekend!
Make sure you head over there and enter to win all of the amazing prizes! 


  1. Great post! I may pull out my money too.
    I "found" mine in a similar fashion... being given away in the teacher's room. SCORE
    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  2. You had me cracking up about how you found the money tub! I would be squealing too! Very exciting treasure! It's great how you get to "experiment" with your 7th period class-I love flexibility when I'm teaching, those are the best lessons! I love how excited your students are about using the money and it's so relevant to real life! Win-Win!
    Thanks for linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  3. I enjoyed your post and wish I could do something similar with my struggling students. Right now I'm only set up to work on current class skills and "teaching to the test".

  4. Oh certainly have had your share of illness and injury this winter. Poor you! I hope this doesn't stop you from visiting with your new puppy this weekend. :)

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  5. What a fun easy way to get your kiddos counting money!!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  6. I love this..I think I inherited some more money last year to add to my other collections of inheritances! I need to drag mine out and have my kids pay me for being their wonderful teacher. $170 from each kid would be fabulous! Lol! Great post, Susan!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'