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Savvy Sellers and Spenders

  • Lesson
  • 1
  • 2
Number and Operations
Caitlin LeBlanc Dankanich
Chester Springs, PA

This second lesson places students in the shoes of a real business owner. Students have chosen the products they want to sell, rented locations, and prepared advertising; now they get to experience the thrill of the sell as they spend their $200 on stores' merchandise(s). Students experience real-world applications of adding and subtracting decimals while learning what it means to be a smart consumer.

If the previous lesson, Building a Business, was not used you need to:

  • Place students into groups.
  • Develop a product list with wholesale prices for students to choose from.
  • Give groups a budget of $500 which they can use to purchase products and advertising materials (see materials list for suggested advertising materials).
  • Have students determine selling prices for products.
  • Allow students time to create advertising materials to be used at their store (You may want to create a poster template for students to use to decorate their store and advertise their products and specials).

Give students time to set up their store in the section they have rented. Break each group into two selling teams. Explain that this allows at least one selling team to be available to sell the group's products, while the other selling team can be out spending the $200 on their debit cards.

Explain that groups need to keep track of all business transactions that occur. Using the Savvy Sellers Activity Sheet, students will keep track of the money that is collected from each student, in addition to how many products they have sold. Businesses may not sell more products than their store has originally had, unless they had extra money in their original budget set aside for this purpose.

pdficon Savvy Sellers Activity Sheet 

In addition to the business writing down their sale for their own records, a worker must write on the customer's debit card: the name of the store, what was purchased, the amount of money it cost, and how much money is left on the customer's debit card.

Give each student a My Debit Card Activity Sheet and announce that "Selling Team #1" will be remaining at their business, while "Selling Team #2" goes shopping at the other businesses. Students do not have to buy the same items as their team members; buying is an individual activity. Give students five minutes, and then, have "Selling Team #1" go shopping while "Selling Team #2" remains at their businesses.

pdficon My Debit Card Activity Sheet 

Any money that is left on the student debit cards will be added up at the end and divided evenly among the groups. You may have a student group who finishes early complete this task, or have each group share the amount of money that was left on their debit cards. To do this, write the leftover amounts on the board, and have the students figure out how much money should be given to each group (by adding up the numbers and then dividing by the number of groups). Have students notice that the amount of money each group gets is also the mean of the amounts of money that each group had left over.

Have students work together to answer Questions 1 and 2 on the Were you a Moneymaker? Activity Sheet. Students need to determine how much money was collected during the selling phase, and then, subtract all of their costs (less than or equal to $1,000). The group with the highest profit will be declared "The Money Makers!"

Have students complete the Were you a Moneymaker? Activity Sheet individually. Discuss questions 3–5 as a class. Discussion suggestion: have students stand or sit in a circle around the perimeter of the room, and pose question #3. Use a soft ball to toss to a student who then says his/her answer. This student then tosses the ball to another student who shares his/her answer and so on. Continue for questions 4 and 5.

pdficon Were you a Moneymaker? Activity Sheet 

Assessment Options

  1. Bring in grocery store circulars, give each student a $50 budget and tell students they must plan a class picnic. See how effectively they spend their money.
  2. Use the Savvy Sellers Assessment form during the lesson. Record the names of students who may need extra practice with subtraction involving decimals. Note which students had trouble determining their profit accurately.
    pdficon Savvy Sellers Assessment Form
  3. Look at the student reflection questions on the Were you a Money Maker? activity sheet. What have students learned as a result of the project about running a business? What have they learned about being a consumer?
  4. Pose questions, such as the ones in the Questions for Students section, to assess students' understanding of the mathematical concepts involved in this lesson. You may ask students to provide their responses in writing and collect their written responses.


  1. Invite students from other grades or classrooms or faculty in the school visit the student stores. After this experience, have students consider the following questions:
    • Did you find your different-age customers bought the same products as your classmates? Why or why not do you think this occurred?
      [People of different ages may have different interests so it would not be surprising to see that they liked some products more than others. On the other hand, a good product is a product that appeals to all ages so your students may find one product stood out in general no matter what the age of the buyer.]
    • If you had to develop a product to sell to the entire school rather than just your classmates, what are some things you would keep in mind?
      [Price, interesting for all ages, interesting to both boys and girls, etc.]
  2. Have students research other professions and businesses that use math. Have students share their findings with the class.

Questions for Students 

1. What are the different ways businesses use math?

[They use math to predict or determine costs, profit, appropriate salaries, etc.]

2. What are some real-life situations you considered as you worked on this project?

[Answers will vary, but may include: how real businesses price their products, how much it costs to start a business, where people get the money to start a business, etc.]

3. What does it mean to be a smart consumer?

[To get the best price for a desired product.]

Teacher Reflection 
  • What were some of the ways that students illustrated that they were actively engaged during the project? Did students seem more actively engaged in other parts of the project than others? Why do you think this occurred?
  • What worked with classroom behavior management during the selling phase? What didn't work? How would you change what didn't work?
  • Do you feel your high achieving students were challenged during the project? If not, how could you adapt this project in the future?
Unit Icon
Number and Operations

Money Makers

Refine your number sense and problem solving strategies as groups compete for the title "Money Makers!"
Number and Operations

Building a Business

In the first lesson (of two), students start a business from the ground up! Students collaborate to develop a product and are given a $1000 budget in which to start their business. Students participate in a live auction of real estate locations within the classroom, determine the wholesale prices of various products, and work together to develop an advertising campaign all to prepare for the big day- selling day!

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Apply previous learning involving pricing a product, creating an advertising campaign, and selling a product.
  • Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems.
  • Use problem solving skills and number sense to become smart consumers.
  • Monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical problem solving.
  • Develop number sense.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Develop and use strategies to estimate the results of whole-number computations and to judge the reasonableness of such results.
  • 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.
  • Develop and use strategies to estimate the results of rational-number computations and judge the reasonableness of the results.

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

Grade 4, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.4.MD.A.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.

Common Core State Standards – Practice

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1
    Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP4
    Model with mathematics.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP5
    Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP7
    Look for and make use of structure.