Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: K-3

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 1-4, students use BrainPOP Jr. resources to practice recognizing coins and determining their value. Students also use a free online math game to make exact change using various coin amounts and determine the fewest amount of coins needed to make exact change.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Recognize coins and determine their value.
  2. Make exact change using various coin amounts.
  3. Determine the fewest amount of coins needed to make exact change.


  • Computers with Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard (or just an LCD projector)


penny, nickel, dime, quarter, coins, change, exact change, cents


This lesson plan is designed to be used with children who are familiar with coins and their respective values. It can be used to introduce or reinforce the concept of making change. The lesson plan uses a free online math game (developed by Dough Main) called Exact Change. The game teaches children coin recognition and denominations as that relates to producing change. Players are rewarded with bonus points for producing change with the fewest possible coins, as well as for how quickly they can produce change. The goal is click coins to make change before the timer runs out. An exact change bonus is awarded when the player uses the fewest possible coins. A time bonus can also be earned for speed when players finish with addition time remaining.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Project the Picture Maker from the Counting Coins topic page. Complete the activity as a class to review key skills such as coin recognition and coin values.
  2. Play the Counting Coins Movie for the class. Talk with students about the strategies Annie and Moby used to count coins.
  3. Tell students that they will have the opportunity to practice counting coins by playing the Exact Change game. Project the game for the class to see. Click on "Instructions" to review the coins with students and share how they can earn points during game play.
  4. Play several practice rounds as a class. Model how to check the money amount in the bottom right corner of the screen and then click on coins as quickly as possible to make that amount. Have student volunteers demonstrate game play, as well.
  5. Give students about 10 minutes to play the game on their own or with a partner.
  6. Bring the class back to a whole group discussion. What strategies did they use during game play to help them? How did they determine how to make exact change?
  7. Use the Activity, Easy Quiz, or Hard Quiz to assess student learning.

Extension Activities:

To help students retain the information they've learned about coins and making change, provide opportunities for students to play the game throughout the school year. You can adjust the speed of the game as students' skills become more advanced.