Show me the Money!

16 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT count pennies, nickels and dimes in separate groups.

Big Idea

Students love learning about money! In this lesson, they integrate coin identification with initial practice of counting coins.

Objective & Hook

12 minutes

CCSS Context:

In this lesson, students start working towards 2MDC8, making this a perfect lesson for an extension in first grade or early in the money units in 2nd grade. This lesson has students think critically about why we skip count the way we do for each coin. Students grapple with questions such as, why do we count dimes by 10s instead of 5s? 


To get kids' brains moving, have students sort a bag of play coins and graph them! This is aligned to both the 2nd grade money standard and the first grade bar graph standard. After students sort and graph their coins, I'll have them tell a partner which group had the most, least, etc to practice data analysis. Check out this adorable (and free!) coin graph from Haley O'Connor's TPT store! See this Student Coin Graph as an example. This student sorted the coins first onto the graph and then recorded.

Connect to the big picture:

We have been learning how to count nickels and pennies by themselves, but when we use money, we have to be able to use all the coins. Today we are going to focus on how to count the dime.


Your thinking job is: How can I count this group of dimes and show how I counted?

Opening Discussion

15 minutes

I’ll present 3 groups of coins: dimes, nickels and pennies.

  • How do I count the pennies? Why do I count them by 1s? Let’s practice counting them.
  • How do I count nickels? Why can’t I count them by 1s? Why do I count them by 5s? Let’s practice counting them. 

Now I have my group of dimes. Pennies are worth 1 cent and we count them by 1s. Nickels are worth 5 cents and we count them by 5s. Dimes are worth 10 cents.

  • What do you think we count them by? Why do we count them by 10s?

Connect to the concrete model: Concrete models are so important for little learners! Giving the very abstract concept of money a concrete representation helps students visualize the idea of "value". For the penny, we used one cube to represent its value. For nickels, we used 5 cubes to represent their value. What concrete model could I use to represent a dime? 

I’ll present a group of dimes and have students practice counting them. As students count, I’ll keep track of how they counted by writing the numbers under the coins.

Check for Understanding: Why am I counting these dimes by 10s?

Student Share

15 minutes

I'll have students work on white boards, which allows students to all practice the content and allows me to keep track of how students are solving. This gives me a chance to address any misconceptions students have before they go off and practice independently.

The big focus question for this time is: How do I count this coin and why do I count it that way?

I'll show a group of dimes and have students draw circles with D inside them to represent the dimes. I'll also have students write the numbers they say as they count.

After students count a few groups of dimes, I'll switch to groups of nickels or pennies. I'll model thinking about what coin it is, deciding how I should count, and then starting my count.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

Students sort coins into correct groups (penny, nickel or dime) and then count how much money is in each group.

Group A: Intervention

To help support these students, they have picture support to remind them which coin is which on their sort.

Group B: Right on Track

Students sort coins without any picture support. Students count how much money is in each group.

Group C: Extension (Cash Register Money)

Students solve word problems by finding the correct coin, cutting it out and then counting how much money in total. Students explain in writing how they counted out how much money in total. This is aligned to the CCSS vision for writing across the curriculum.

Watch this KIPPster at Work as she applies her understanding of base 10 to the Group C work! You'll see how I ask her questions to help her deepen her understanding of counting different coins, particularly the nickels.

Dime Nickel Penny Sorts and Cash Register Money independent practice is attached!


10 minutes

Students will end the lesson with a writing task and Coin Exit Ticket.

Students figure out how much money is in each group and then I assess their conceptual understanding (a key shift in the CCSS movement) by asking: Why are the total amounts of money different in each group?

To show her understanding, the student must be able to explain that the coin values are different, which means you have to skip count differently, which means the total amounts of money are different. This directly addresses student misconception about coins: that if you have 3 of any coin, it will always equal the same amount.