Pin it!
Google Plus

Trading For Quarters

Number and OperationsAlgebra
Grace M. Burton
Location: unknown

In this lesson, children listen to a poem about money, and then examine a quarter. They find sets of coins equivalent to a quarter using pennies, nickels and dimes. They also estimate and count coin collections and count by fives and tens using actual and online calculators and pose and answer coin puzzles.

Read from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends the poem "Smart". You may wish to ask volunteers to act out the transactions in the poem. Or, if you prefer, read "Follow the Money" to the children.

561 quarter

Then distribute the children’s coin bags, which at this point should contain 1 quarter, 3 dimes, 5 nickels and 8 pennies. Hold up a quarter, and ask the children to find a quarter in their bag. As they describe it, record their descriptions on chart paper and any new words they use on the word wall. Now ask the children to place a piece of paper over the quarter and make rubbings of both sides of the coin. Ask them to record the coin’s value in both words (25 cents) and using the cent sign.

pdficonTen Frame Activity Sheet 

Next display a Ten Frame Activity Sheet and ask volunteers to model trading pennies for nickels and dimes, and nickels for dimes. Model trading nickels for a quarter by placing a nickel in each cell of the top row of the ten frame, and when the row is full, exchanging the 5 nickels for 1 quarter. Then ask them to find out how nickels and dimes could be traded for a quarter.

pdficonWays to Make 25 Cents Activity Sheet 

Next ask the children to use their coins to discover how many ways they can make a set of coins equal to 25 cents. As they find the ways, ask them to record them on the Ways to Make 25 Cents Activity Sheet. [Answers are available for you.]

To facilitate counting large sets of coins, review with the children how to count by 5’s and 10’s. One way to make this interesting is to use an online calculator, actual calculators, or hundreds boards.

appicon Online Calculator and Hundreds Board 

pdficon Hundreds Board 

Now put the children in pairs and have the children return their coins to their plastic bags. Invite the children to take turns showing to their partner a handful of coins and having him or her guess the total value of the coins. Then ask them to work together to find the actual value, exchanging for nickels, dimes, and quarters whenever possible.

As a concluding activity, pose puzzles such as “I am a coin that has Lincoln’s head on it. Who am I?" You may wish to have students to create and share similar puzzles. These puzzles would make an interesting classroom display and can also be added to their learning portfolios.



Questions for Students 

1. How many pennies equal a quarter? How many nickels?

[25 pennies equal a quarter; 5 nickels equal a quarter.]

2. What amounts can you model with just 2 dimes and one quarter?

[45 cents, 35 cents, 25 cents, 20 cents, depending upon how many coins are used.]

3. Which coins could we use to model 30 cents?

[1 quarter and 1 nickel; 1 quarter and 5 pennies; 3 dimes; etc.]

4. Which coins are silver? Which is the largest coin? The smallest?

[Quarters, dimes, and nickels are silver in color; The quarter is the largest coin of this set; The dime is the smallest coin of this set.]

5. Suppose you want to buy some juice from a machine, and the juice costs 40 cents. What coins can you put in the machine if it doesn’t take pennies?

[Dimes, quarters, nickels.]

6. How would you tell a friend to trade for a quarter?

[Answers may vary.]

Teacher Reflection 

  • Which students counted easily by 5’s and 10’s?
  • What activities would be appropriate for students who met all the objectives?
  • Which students had difficulty distinguishing among the coins?
  • Which students had trouble counting sets of coins? What instructional experiences do they need next?
  • What adjustments would you make the next time you teach this lesson?

Exploring Pennies and Dimes

In this lesson children examine pennies and dimes and model subtraction as they listen to a children’s book. They model amounts to 60 cents with coins. They use coin rubbings of pennies and dimes and make a chart comparing the two coins. At the conclusion of the lesson, they begin a word wall and make an entry in their portfolios. 

How Many Ways?

Children extend their investigation of the previous day to include nickels. They estimate the value of collections of pennies, nickels and dimes then determine the exact amount by exchanging sets of pennies or nickels for dimes.

Modeling Prizes

Children use pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to model amounts to 70 cents. Next they answer money puzzles and estimate the number of pennies in a jar. They also add to the word wall.

Making Change


To begin this lesson, children model prices mentioned in a children’s book. Then they make change from a given amount by counting on from the price.

Note: Counting on to make change is a very challenging activity. In initial instruction, it is best to restrict the coins used in making change to pennies and dimes.


Looking Back and Moving Forward

This final lesson of the unit reviews the work of the previous lessons. Children discuss and model prices and the words on the word wall and play games to facilitate continuing practice. They add to their portfolio and listen to another children’s book. Questions for summative evaluation are suggested.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Identify and state the value of a quarter.
  • Estimate the value of a collection of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
  • Find the value of a collection of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
  • Construct sets of coins which have a given value.
  • Find equivalent sets of coins.
  • Count by 5’s and 10’s.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Count with understanding and recognize "how many" in sets of objects.
  • Develop a sense of whole numbers and represent and use them in flexible ways, including relating, composing, and decomposing numbers.
  • Develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections.
  • Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties.