Working with money is an effective way to teach third graders some basic math skills, such as skip counting, as well as more advanced addition and subtraction, comparing and multiplication. Display images of money in the classroom and provide children with ample opportunities to identify the different bills and coins. Discuss how coins differ from one another and what the associated values are. Math activities with money engage children, who can relate the topic to the real world, though their experiences aren't likely to be uniform.
Third-graders can practice counting collections of money by using real or play money or pictures of money on paper. For instance, create a worksheet with different groups of money displayed in rows. The first group might consist of just change: a quarter, three dimes, two nickels and six pennies. Under each coin should be a write-on line. At the end of the row of coins should be an equal sign and a longer write-on line for the answer. Under each coin, students will write the value of the coin, adding on as they move (or skip count) to the next coin. Numbers for this example would be as follows: 25, 50, 60, 70, 80, 85, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96. The final answer would be 96 cents. Children can use real or play money to help, if needed. Incorporate bills as students become more practiced in counting collections.
Write an amount of money on the board. Tell children to come up with as many ways to make that amount as possible, using different combinations of bills and coins. Consider making this activity a contest: Students can compete to see who can think of the most combinations. Provide real or play money to help them with their combinations. This activity will help children with critical thinking and counting skills. Allow the students to share their different combinations. Determine if any student found a combination that no one else found.
Split the class into small groups. Give each group a few different scenarios on index cards. For instance, the first scenario might be a story about camping. The students will imagine they are going camping with a specific amount of money to spend. Provide a sheet of supplies that are available in a supply store and challenge the group to figure out what they should buy with the money they have. Tell them to use as much money as possible so they have the least amount of change. Then ask them to figure out how much change they will get back. Alternatively, you can allow them to save some of the money if they can justify why they are choosing to spend a limited amount.
Working with money offers third-graders a chance to work on comparison skills. Create an activity that presents students with groups of money to compare. Students will have to count up each group of coins to find the total values. Then they will have to write down the total values with a "greater than" or "less than" symbol in between. Use combinations of bills and coins, just bills, or just coins, depending on the skill levels of your students.
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