Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about making change under a dollar. It is designed to complement the Making Change Under a Dollar topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Before beginning this topic, we highly recommend reviewing the movies in the Money unit, particularly Dollars and Cents and Equivalent Coins. This movie will explore making change under a dollar and children will apply and build on the strategies and concepts introduced in other movies. If possible, provide children with play money or real bills and coins for practice. You may want to pause the movie as Annie and Moby play out different scenarios with money so that children can model using their coins.

Review with children that they can count up to calculate change. Show an item that costs 98¢. You may want to use a sticky note or a tag to show the price. Then hold up a dollar bill and remind children that a dollar is worth one hundred cents, or 100¢. If you pay with a dollar, how much change should you get back? Guide children to understand that they can start at 98¢ and then count up to 100¢. You may want to use a number line or a hundred chart to help them count up. Since you count up 2¢, you should get 2¢ back in change. Then show an item that costs 22¢. Hold up a quarter and have children explain that a quarter is worth 25¢. If you pay for the item with a quarter, how much change should you get back? Guide children to start at 22¢ and then count up to 25¢. You should receive 3¢ in change. Repeat the activity with other items. For example, you may want to use a dollar to buy an item that costs 95¢ and use three quarters to buy an item that costs 71¢.

Remind children that to calculate change, they can subtract the cost of the purchase from the amount they paid. For example, suppose an item costs 5¢ and you use a quarter to pay for it. How much change should you get back? You can write a number sentence to help solve: 25¢ – 5¢. Children may want to trade in a quarter to make equivalent amounts using two dimes and a nickel. Then they can take away the nickel and skip count the remaining two dimes to get 20¢. Repeat this activity using other amounts. For example, you may want to use two quarters to pay for an item that costs 30¢ or use a quarter and two dimes to pay for an item that costs 40¢. Guide children to count the coins and trade in for equivalent coins to help them subtract or write a number sentence and subtract.

Now show an item that costs 60¢ and explain that you will use a dollar bill to pay for the item. How much change should you get back? Guide children to figure out the change by using a number sentence: 100¢ – 60¢. Write the number sentence vertically and cover up the zeroes in the ones place. Have children solve 10¢ – 6¢ = 4¢ and then bring the zeroes back to show that 100¢ – 60¢ = 40¢. Repeat the skill using other amounts.

Then show an item that costs 48¢ and explain that you will use a dollar bill to pay for the item. How much change should you get back? Guide children to count up from 48¢ until they get to a “landmark” number that is easier to subtract. Children can count up 2¢ to get to 50¢. Since they know that it’s another 50¢ to get to a dollar, they can add 50¢ + 2¢ = 52¢. Thus, you should get 52¢ back in change. Repeat the activity again. For example, you may want to use a dollar to buy an item that costs 24¢. Help children count up 1¢ to 25¢ and then skip count by 25s to get to $1.00. You should receive 76¢ in change.

Calculating change can be frustrating or confusing for some children, but explain that with plenty of practice, it gets much, much easier. You may want to set up a store in your home or classroom and practice calculating change. We also notice that when children buy treats or small toys, suddenly they are much more interested in getting the correct change back! We encourage you to keep things fun and engaging for children and have them apply different skills to calculate change. There are many ways to come to the same answer!

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