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Menus & Money

Learning to use money to make change? Captivate the imaginations of clerks and customers alike with a variety of student enterprises focused on making and spending money!

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Open a discussion with students focused on how we use money. Document student contributions to the discussion using a classroom white board and Crayola Dry-Erase Markers. Once the discussion appears to be complete, ask students to suggest ideas for practicing their money skills (counting money and making change) such as opening a pretend diner, becoming pet shop owners, setting up a grocery store, etc. List these ideas on the white board.
    2. Organize students into small groups. Ask each group to select a business to set up that involves money and change making. They may select from one of the ideas listed on the white board or create a new idea for a business. You could open your own pet shop with stuffed animals. Or set up a grocery store with food cartons. How about designing a bank with recycled boxes? Create any place where you can practice counting money and making change.
    3. With types of businesses determined, groups decide the name of their businesses and create logos representing their enterprise. This can be sketched on a recycled file folder using Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils and Markers. Next students decide what materials are needed to set up their stores, such as recycled food cartons for a grocery store, a table and chairs for a restaurant, etc.
    4. Provide class time for groups to collect, organize, and/or make items for their businesses. Use Crayola Scissors to cut out paper items and Glue Sticks to attach prices to items for sale.
    5. Groups draw pretend paper money on construction paper. Encourage students to look at samples of their country’s currency to make sure they have some of each denomination. Decorate each bill with numerals showing the amount, the country’s name, and a picture. Students color pretend bills and cut them out.
    6. Crayola Model Magic can be used to form coins. To create original colors of Model Magic, knead color from a Crayola Washable Marker into white Model Magic. Continue to add marker color until the shade desired is achieved. Shape coins. Let them air-dry.
    7. With items for sale organized and currency made, students are ready to open for business! Half of the groups may open one day, with the other half of the class "shopping" and spending their money. On a second day, students switch roles with consumers becoming shop keepers and shop keepers becoming consumers. Remind students to always remember to count their change!
    8. After all groups have worked in their businesses for a day, provide time for a whole class activity where students discuss what they believe went well and what they would like to improve.
  • Standards

    LA: Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    LA: With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace

    MATH: Solve two-step word problems using the four operations. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding.

    MATH: Identify arithmetic patterns (including patterns in the addition table or multiplication table), and explain them using properties of operations.

    MATH: Use place value understanding to round whole numbers to the nearest 10 or 100.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Collect a variety of restaurant menus for students to preview. Take a visual walk through the menus, identifying the types of food offered and the cost of items. Ask students to calculate the cost of one, two, or three meals using their menus. Also ask students, while working in small groups, to compose addition and subtraction problems involving ordering food from the menus.

    If your school has a school store, ask for a list of items in the store and prices for each item. Provide student groups with a given amount of money to work with. Students are to "spend" the money purchasing items. Groups are to try spending as much of the money as possible, having little or no change remaining.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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