Check Please!


Using Amy Axelrod's Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money as a reference, students calculate how much money the pigs in the book find and spend. Then they determine how else to spend the money at a restaurant and create posters showing their menu orders.


To achieve the standard of whole number computation, students will:
  • Construct number meanings through real-world experiences and the use of physical materials
  • Understand our numeration system by relating counting, grouping, and place value concepts
  • Interpret the multiple uses of numbers encountered in the real world
  • Model, explain, and develop reasonable proficiency with basic facts and algorithms
  • Use a variety of mental computation and estimation techniques
  • Use calculators in appropriate computational situations
  • Select and use computation techniques appropriate to specific problems and determine whether the results are reasonable.

Subject Area

  • Math


  • 3rd
  • 4th
  • 5th
  • 6th

Class Time

  • Total Time: 0-45 minutes


  • 1 copy of the book Pigs Will Be Pigs: Fun with Math and Money by Amy Axelrod or use a read aloud video (link:
  • Poster paper
  • Pencils and pens
  • Play or real dollars and coins as manipulatives
  • Calculators

Lesson Steps

  1. Read Pigs Will be Pigs aloud to your students.
  2. Break the class into groups of four. Tell the students that you are going to reread the book, and that their challenge is to determine just how much money the pigs found and spent. Hand out manipulatives and/or calculators.
  3. Reread the story, pausing as needed so students can calculate the amount of money the pigs found as well as their final restaurant bill.
  4. As a class, ask the groups to share their calculations of how much money the pigs had left after their meal. Have them explain the strategies they used to determine their answers.
  5. Using the menu included in the book, have each group place a different order for its "table"—one that satisfies everyone and also stays within the available funds. Then have the groups create a poster showing what they ordered, the total cost of their meal, and the amount of money they have left over.
  6. Share the posters with the class.


  • Use the written calculations to determine whether the students were able to successfully calculate the amount of money the pigs found and spent.
  • Use a standard rubric to judge the merits of the poster. Have it include any criteria set by you or the students at the start of the activity.

Common Core Standards

Discipline: Math Domain: 4.MD Measurement and Data Grade(s): Grade 4 Cluster: Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit Standards:
  • 4.MD.1. Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm, kg, g, lb, oz, l, ml, hr, min and sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two column table.
    • For example, know that 1ft is 12 times as long as 1in. Express the length of a 4ft snake as 48in. Generate a conversion table for feet and inches listing the number pairs (1, 12), (2, 24), (3, 36), ...
  • 4.MD.2. Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.
  • 4.MD.3. Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems. For example, find the width of a rectangular room given the area of the flooring and the length, by viewing the area formula as a multiplication equation with an unknown factor.

National Standards

Discipline: Mathematics Domain: 3-5 Number and Operations Cluster: Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates. Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards: In grades 3–5 all students should
  • develop fluency with basic number combinations for multiplication and division and use these combinations to mentally compute related problems, such as 30 × 50;
  • develop fluency in adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers;
  • develop and use strategies to estimate the results of whole-number computations and to judge the reasonableness of such results;
  • develop and use strategies to estimate computations involving fractions and decimals in situations relevant to students' experience;
  • use visual models, benchmarks, and equivalent forms to add and subtract commonly used fractions and decimals; and
  • select appropriate methods and tools for computing with whole numbers from among mental computation, estimation, calculators, and paper and pencil according to the context and nature of the computation and use the selected method or tools.

Discipline: Mathematics Domain: 3-5 Number and Operations Cluster: Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another. Grade(s): Grades 3–5 Standards: In grades 3–5 all students should
  • understand various meanings of multiplication and division;
  • understand the effects of multiplying and dividing whole numbers;
  • identify and use relationships between operations, such as division as the inverse of multiplication, to solve problems; and
  • understand and use properties of operations, such as the distributivity of multiplication over addition.