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For Sale!

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After reading an appropriate children’s math text, students will review same type (denomination) coin sets, and will build same type sets equaling fifty cents. This lesson is part of the Unit Plan “Creative Coin Combinations.”

Coin Type(s)

  • Cent
  • Nickel
  • Dime
  • Quarter
  • Half dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Generic


  • Students will learn to display coin amounts with same type coin sets (for example, 25 cents using only nickels).
  • Students will learn the different ways to make 50 cents using a variety of coin denominations.
  • Students will practice skip counting using 5 and 10.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Math

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts


  • Kindergarten
  • First grade
  • Second grade

Class Time

Sessions: One
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 0-45 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups

Terms and Concepts

  • Cent
  • Coin equivalents
  • Dime
  • Half dollar
  • Nickel
  • Penny
  • Quarter
  • Skip counting


  • An age-appropriate children’s text relating to the purchase of goods with coins, such as:
    • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
    • The Great Pet Sale by Mick Inkpen
    • The Lunch Line (Hello Math Reader, Level 3) by Karen Berman Nagel
    • Monster Money by Grace MacCarone
  • Real or play coins (or coin stamps): pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and one half dollar for each group of students
  • Math Journals
  1. Read the selected children’s story either in a reading group or as a read aloud.
  2. At the end of the story, ask the students about the purchases being made in the story, such as what was bought and how much it cost. If there is an item that cost 50 cents, ask questions that revolve around that item.
  3. Explain that you are going to learn together the different ways to buy an item that costs 50 cents.
  4. Review the value and characteristics of each of the coins that will be used in this activity (currently circulating pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars).
  5. As a group, review the idea that you can use smaller coin values to build a larger amount (five pennies is five cents, the same amount as a nickel). For this activity, discuss only same type (denomination) coin sets.
  6. Distribute real or play coins of the denominations listed above to each student.
  7. Have your students show you how they can make different amounts with the coins that they have in front of them. Start with a small amount (such as ten cents) and ask your students to show different ways in which they can combine pennies (only) and then nickels (only) to create this amount.
  8. Once students seem comfortable with this concept, have them work in groups to try to make fifty cents using same type coin sets. For this first lesson, make sure that the class becomes familiar with the basic combinations: fifty pennies, ten nickels, five dimes, two quarters, and one half dollar. Have them record these in their math journals.  This is an excellent time to teach skip counting or review skip counting with students working with nickels and dimes.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Advanced students could learn to skip count with quarters and half dollars.
  • As additional practice, Math Keys Whole Numbers (or similar software) allows students to practice skip counting up to $1.00 or even $5.00.


Students can demonstrate to each other the different ways to make 50 cents using the same coins.

Use math journal entries to evaluate whether the students have met the lesson objectives.

Discipline: Math
Domain: 1.OA Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Grade(s): Grade 1
Cluster: Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction

  • 1.OA.1. Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart and comparing with unknowns in all positions, eg, by using objects, drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
  • 1.OA.2. Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20, eg, by using objects, drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem. 

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: K-2 Number and Operations
Cluster: Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates.
Grade(s): Grades K–2

In K through grade 2 all students should

  • develop and use strategies for whole-number computations, with a focus on addition and subtraction;
  • develop fluency with basic number combinations for addition and subtraction; and
  • use a variety of methods and tools to compute, including objects, mental computation, estimation, paper and pencil, and calculators.

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: K-2 Number and Operations
Cluster: Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another.
Grade(s): Grades K–2

In K through grade 2 all students should

  • understand various meanings of addition and subtraction of whole numbers and the relationship between the two operations;
  • understand the effects of adding and subtracting whole numbers; and
  • understand situations that entail multiplication and division, such as equal groupings of objects and sharing equally.

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: All Representation
Cluster: Instructional programs from kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to
Grade(s): Grades K–2

  • Create and use representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas
  • Select, apply, and translate among mathematical representations to solve problems
  • Use representations to model and interpret physical, social, and mathematical phenomena 

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: K-2 Number and Operations
Cluster: Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.
Grade(s): Grades K–2

In K through grade 2 all students should

  • count with understanding and recognize "how many" in sets of objects;
  • use multiple models to develop initial understandings of place value and the base-ten number system;
  • develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections;
  • develop a sense of whole numbers and represent and use them in flexible ways, including relating, composing, and decomposing numbers;
  • connect number words and numerals to the quantities they represent, using various physical models and representations; and
  • understand and represent commonly used fractions, such as 1/4, 1/3, and 1/2.