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Try a Money Bee for a "Change"

Money Lesson

Return to Were In the Money: Lessons for Teaching About Money


Educational Technology


  • Applied Math
  • Arithmetic


  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Adapt the spelling bee format and hold a money bee for a "change!"


Students will practice solving problems that call on them to make change in a variety of cash transactions.


change, coin, money, decimal

Materials Needed

This activity works best in a classroom equipped with a projector hooked up to a classroom computer. See suggested adaptations in the Lesson Plan if you teach in a projector-less classroom.

Lesson Plan

This lesson takes the spelling bee format and adapts it to provide practice in making change (money skills).

The lesson can be adapted in many ways. The ideal approach involves having a projector connected to your computer. Project the Web site Change Maker on a screen for all students to see.

If you do not have a computer projector, see Adaptations for the Projector-less Classroom below.

Change Maker is a fun, interactive Web site that poses money problems to students. Select a level -- Easy, Medium, Hard, or Super Brain -- and click the flag of your home country -- the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, or Australia. Now youre ready to have some fun!

A sample "Easy problem from the U.S. version of Change Maker: Amount of Sale: $1.22; Amount Paid: $2.00

After reading the problem, a student selects the combination of coins that make the correct change. (For the above example, the answer is three quarters and three pennies, for example.). The student then clicks the Go button to see if his or her answer is correct.

Adapting Change Maker for a Money Bee
Present Change Maker problems to students one at a time, just as you would present spelling words in a spelling bee. You can go around the room or up and down rows, or you can try the following strategy for selecting students:

Write each students name on a Popsicle stick. Put the sticks in a can. One at a time, draw a stick from the can and pose a problem to the student whose name was drawn. Continue calling students in this manner until the can is empty. Refill the can and start again.

After each student identifies the combination of coins (or, at more difficult levels, the combination of bills and coins) that correctly solves the money problem, click Go to see if the student is correct. If the student is correct, he or she stays in the game. If the student is incorrect, he or she takes a seat.

You might prepare a "making change work sheet for students who are eliminated in the opening rounds so they can get some extra practice making change while they sit.

When all students have been called once, move up to the next level of difficulty and continue the money bee. Eventually, you will crown a money bee champion!

More Pointers

  • You might appoint one student to be the official timekeeper. Give students a set amount of time (for example, 30 seconds) to respond to a Change Maker problem. The timekeeper will ring a bell or buzzer when time is up. Then students have 5 seconds to complete their response.
  • Appoint one student to be the selector. If you use the Popsicle stick strategy for calling on students (see above), the student-selector can pull the sticks and call the names. That student might also be the person who reads aloud the Change Maker problems.
  • Do you have a student who is an adept keyboarder? As students call out their responses to the Change Maker problems, the keyboarder might input those responses. When the students complete giving their answers, the keyboarder clicks the Go button to see if the student will remain standing or sit down.

Adaptations for the Projector-less Classroom
If you do not have a projector connected to your computer so you can display the Change Maker site for all to see, you might adapt the activity in one of the following ways:

  • Print dozens of the Change Maker problems and copy them onto transparencies. Lay one transparency at a time on an overhead projector. Follow the money bee instructions above.
  • Students might work together in pairs in the computer lab, sharing a computer and taking turns solving Change Maker problems. Set a time limit. At the end of the time, have the student in each pair who has the most correct answers team up with the winner from another pair. Have students on the losing end of each team pair off with new partners too.
  • Print dozens of Change Maker problems and make two copies of each. Leave one of the sheets blank and mark the other sheet to show the correct answers to each problem. Put the sheets back to back and laminate them. Have students use crayons or washable markers to do as many of the problems as they can in five minutes. How many did they get correct? Who got the most right answers?

Students will think Change Maker is so much fun, theyll want to use it during recess. Why not let them? Be sure to add the site to your list of favorites for students to use during free-time activity periods.


Students who were eliminated in the first two rounds must complete a making-change work sheet with 80 percent accuracy.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations

  • GRADES Pre-K - 2

  • NM-NUM.PK-2.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    NM-NUM.PK-2.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
  • GRADES 3 - 5

  • NM-NUM.3-5.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    NM-NUM.3-5.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-NUM.6-8.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    NM-NUM.6-8.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-NUM.9-12.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    NM-NUM.9-12.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
MATHEMATICS: Representation
    GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas
    NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena
    GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
    NT.K-12.6 Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making tools

Return to this weeks Lesson Planning article, Were In the Money!.

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