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Category: Money and Kids

Cookie Fun Way to Teach Money, Arithmetic, and Geometry

Cookie Fun Way to Teach Money, Arithmetic, and Geometry

Cookies in math class? Absolutely! This fun and engaging hands-on activity will get your students excited about doing math.

Students will be designing their perfect cookie within the limits of a budget. They will be filling out order forms for cookies, candy and frosting then designing and drawing their final product. This fun activity seamlessly ties in important concepts in math, specifically, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with money, and attributes of geometric shapes.

This lesson is divided into grades 2-3 and grades 4-5. In grades 2-3 students get lots of practice adding and subtracting with coins. There are coin counting mats and coin sheets to help students as they fill out their order forms. In grades 4-5, in addition to filling out their order forms, students will get practice using a compass and centimeter ruler.

There’s nothing like cookies and M&Ms to get students motivated about doing math. But the best part is, they get to eat their math work when they’re done!

Along with the pdf, you’ll recieve a private link to the video version of the lesson where I share samples and offer tips.

Check out this video to see a preview of this lesson: Cookie Fun Preview

Click here for more information or to buy the lesson.

Supported standards:
CCSS: 2.OA.1,2.OA.2, 2.NBT.5, 2.NBT.6, 2.NBT.7, 2.MD.8, 2.G.1, 3.OA.1, 3.OA.3, 3.OA.4, 3.OA.7, 3.NBT.2, 3.G.1, 4.OA.2, 4.NBT.4, 4.NBT.5, 4.MD.1, 4.MD2, 4.MD5, 4G.1, 4G.2, 5.NBT.5, 5.G.3, 5.G.4
TEKS: Second Grade: 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 5A, 6A, 8A, 8C; Third grade: 4A, 4C, 4E, 4G, 4K, 5A, 5B, 5D, 6A, 6B; Fourth Grade: 2E, 4A, 4C, 4D, 4H, 6A, 6C, 6D, 8A, 8C; Fifth Grade: 3A, 3D, 3E, 5, 7

Adding Coins: How Much is Today Worth?

Adding Coins: How Much is Today Worth?
Here’s a great way to give students practice adding coins. Use the date as their target number and then have them come up with all the different combinations using pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. To turn this into a problem-solving activity, ask them to prove that they found all the combinations.

A good way for students to learn how to organize their work is to have them use a table. At first, most kids fill in the table haphzardly which can make it difficult for them to know if they got all the combinations. That’s okay; it’s a learning process. Then ask them if there’s a way to fill in the table in a more organized way that would make it easier to prove that all the combinations are there. The photo above is one example of starting with pennies and working our way down through each coin.

The discussion about filling in the table is super important. This gives them a strategy to use in the future if confronted with a similar activity.

Click here to get a copy of the How Much is Today Worth? table.

CCSS: 2.MD.8
TEKS: First Grade: 4A, 4B, 4C; Second Grade 5A, 5B

Of Slugs and Budgets – Teaching Money Management to Kids

Of Slugs and Budgets – Teaching Money Management to Kids

When my oldest son, Nathan, was four years old, I caught him crying silently in bed one night. I had gone back into his room to tuck him in as he liked to spend a few minutes “reading” to himself before saying goodnight. Seeing him crying concerned me.

“Nathan, what’s the matter?” I asked.

He lifted the book he had been reading and turned to the page where a cartoon representation of a slug was sitting behind a ticket booth. The sign read: Hugs and Kisses $1.00 50¢ 25¢ 05¢. The book he was sharing with me was called The Unhuggables: the truth about snakes, skunks, spiders, and other animals that are hard to love.

“He looks so sad,” Nathan sniffed, pointing to the slug, who did, indeed, look pretty sad. “No-one wants to give him a hug.”

Not being a huge fan of slugs, myself, but relieved that this was what made him upset, I had to quickly figure out what purpose slugs served.

“Oh, honey,” I stalled, “Slugs are misunderstood. They’re actually quite useful. They decompose a lot of dead leaves and that’s a very good thing because it puts nutrients back into the soil which helps flowers grow. But not many people know this otherwise I’m sure they would be giving him hugs and kisses.”

I actually impressed myself that this little bit of information about slugs surfaced in my brain. I guess I really was listening in biology class. And the good news is that hearing this seemed to satisfy Nathan.

“We should tell people that slugs are good,” he said.

“Yes, we should,” I agreed. Five minutes later, he was asleep.

Budgets are like slugs. They’re often misunderstood. And because of that, people find them unhuggable.

But budgets actually serve a very important function. Budgets help us get the things we want in life: a new car, a house, college education for our kids, more time with our family, the ability to travel to exotic places… Money is the tool that can help us achieve those desires. A budget helps us use that tool effectively.

So teaching our kids how to budget is important if we want them to achieve their goals in life. Kids budgeting? Of course! The good news is, teaching them is pretty simple. Here are three ways to give your kids hands-on experiences with budgeting (excerpted from the book Raised for Richness):

The Birthday Party – ages 7+

Decide how much you are willing to spend on your child’s birthday party. Get CASH in that amount (that’s your budget) and put it in an envelope labeled ‘(Sara’s) Birthday Party’. You’ll use the envelope to help you keep track of your running expenses.

Then have your child help you make a list of all the expenses related to the party. Making a list will help you stay focused when you’re shopping. And thinking of these in advance will teach your child to be organized. She’ll need to consider number of guests, party games, food, party favors, paper plates, etc.

Now the fun part…you get to go shopping. As you buy items, write the total on the envelope and keep a running balance. Using cash will underscore the value of a dollar (it makes a difference if you can SEE the money) and help you stick to the budget.

Tweens and teens can go a step further and come up with the “flow” of the party…when to play games, when to eat, etc.

Clothing Allowance: Tweens and Teenagers

This is a great back-to-school-shopping activity, but can still be used any time of the year. Tweens and teens are quite capable of shopping for themselves. They may make mistakes along the way, but those are great learning opportunities. So giving them a lump sum of money and putting them in charge of spending within the limits of a budget is good practice.

Just like the birthday party activity, begin by deciding how much you’re willing to spend on clothing. Consider how long you expect those clothes to last. In other words, are they shopping for all their fall/winter clothes? Then have your child make a list of needed items: 2 pair of jeans, three t-shirts, socks, warm jacket, etc.

Again, get CASH in the needed amount. Tell him that he needs to buy all the items on the list and any money left over is his to keep! This usually gets kids to think carefully about their purchases and look for good deals. Instant savvy shoppers!

The Cell Phone: Teenagers

Parents have been handed an unbelievable tool to help teach teens how to budget. It’s the cell phone. Yup, that object of love and hate. Done correctly, it becomes an object of learning. Here’s how.

Teens need to stay connected to their friends. This is normal as they figure out their place in the world. Cell phones keep them connected. Using their “need” for a cell phone as the motivator, we can teach them basic money management skills such as budgeting and paying bills.

First, teens need to know that along with a cell phone comes responsibility. Keeping track of your cell phone, resisting the urge to text during dinner, and paying your phone bill. Kids paying bills? You bet! And the best time to teach them is while they are still hanging out with you.

Next, it’s important to establish what part of the phone bill your child will be responsible for. For example, you may pay the family plan fee but maybe your teen pays the additional phone line fee, texting, and upgrades…

Now comes the fun part. Kids learn to budget their money in the context of something the love…their cell phone! Upgrades? They pay. Overages? They pay. Lost phone? They pay. Unpaid bill? No phone. See how simple it is? Okay, so it’s going to take a few months before everyone understands how the whole thing works, but when that happens, it’s a thing of beauty. Kids are happy; as long as they budget their money correctly, they stay connected to their friends. Parents are happy, their kids are learning real life skills. It’s a win/win.

Although a lot of parents are willing to pay for their kids’ cell phones because it offers peace of mind, how about the peace of mind that comes with knowing your child is ready to take on the financial challenges that await her out there? Don’t miss this silver platter opportunity. With teens, when you get the chance, take it!

Adopt a Class or School – Change a Life Campaign

Adopt a Class or School – Change a Life Campaign

We’re working with Sammy Rabbit on his “Adopt a Class or School – Change a Life” campaign. If you’d like to participate, email me. Details are below.

“Adopt a Class Change a Life” Campaign Special

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with Purchase of “Dream Big – Set Goals” Audio Song and Story CD (8 Tracks):

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For more information about the books and CDs visit:

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Teaching Kids Persistence

Teaching Kids Persistence

What is one of the most common traits of successful people? According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it’s the ability to persist at challenging tasks. And it makes sense. Those who don’t allow obstacles to get in their way have a better chance of accomplishing what they set out to do. But being persistent is not always easy. Here are 7 tips to help develop persistence in our kids:

1. Break the task into smaller, manageable pieces. It’s easier to learn an entire piano piece one measure at a time. 2-3 measures practiced each day means that by the end of the week, the whole piece is mastered. This is true for any assignment we take on.

2. Offer encouraging words. When tasks become hard kids often become afraid of failing. Your positive words of encouragement is often all they need to keep going. Let them know how proud you are of their effort and that you believe they can complete the task.

3. Create an environment conducive to new learning. We learn best when our surroundings are calm, our bellies full, and we’ve had plenty of rest. These give us the energy we need to work on tasks that require a little extra hard work.

4. Don’t bail out your kids. It’s hard for a parent not to want to step in when the I-can’t-do-it’s begin. Take a moment to evaluate the situation. Is the immediate task manageable? Is the environment conducive to learning? If so, then it’s time to offer those encouraging words and let your child struggle a little. There is simply nothing like the sense of satisfaction for having made it successfully through to the other side. That said…

5. Stop when your child becomes too frustrated. There’s no sense in pushing through a task when you can see real frustration take hold. No learning happens this way. Close shop and re-visit it on another day.

6. Look for opportunities to have your child practice persistence. Pull out that 200-piece jigsaw puzzle, grab a bowl of pretzels, and spend the afternoon working on mastering those pieces with your child. Along the way, talk about how overwhelming the project seemed at first, but by taking it one step at a time and being persistent, your efforts are paying off.

7. You. You are your childs biggest role model. Talk about the things you are doing that are difficult and require hard work and persistence. Give examples of how you succeeded in the past. Let them know that you understand how difficult it can be but not giving up is something to be admired.

The Money Connection: A great way to help develop persistence in our kids is to have them create and work towards a personal financial goal. Help them figure out the steps needed to accomplish the goal and offer words of encouragement as they make progress. Let them know you admire their stick-to-it-ness. And when they finally arrive at success, let them know that their persistence and determination got them there. Remind them that persistence is what helps people get what they want out of life.