Listen to this Lesson:

Money is a great way to learn about decimals.  Students have learned the value of coins and they have seen prices in stores and online.  Money is a real world use of decimals and it’s important to show how it works with place value.

After understanding place value with coins, I thought it was important that the students could write coin values in decimal forms.  If they could match the decimal value with fraction models or base ten blocks and decimal squares, then they would start to understand the value of money too.

The other day I was at a store and in the lobby was a coin machine.  There was a man dumping in a jar of coins.  The machine made a bunch of noise and sorted those coins.  Then, he walked away with a receipt.  All he had to do was take that receipt and get his money in the bills and coins.   That receipt was written in decimal form.

I thought to myself why don’t I do an activity that mimics that coin machine to teach my students about decimal notation!  Students can grab a bunch of coins and figure out what the receipt would say.  Then they can even take a few receipts and start to combine them together.  Learning the value of a dollar, and the value of a coin, is important to see the place value.

Set up for Writing Money as Decimals Activity

Bring in jars of change.  Play money works fine, but if you have a jar of coins at home, then bring it in, and maybe your students will count it for you!  Another way to get coins is to ask students to bring in loose change.  If they count it first, they can bring it back home when the activity is over.

Have the following materials:

Launch the Writing Money as Decimals Activity

Money as Decimal Numbers Worksheet, Money as Decimals Worksheet, Money as Fractions Worksheet

Start the class with an image of a coin machine, or even a video of one counting change.  Ask your students where they might find loose change.  Do they know what change is?  Talk about the different coins and their values.

Money as Decimal Numbers, Money as Decimals, Money as Fractions

You can ask questions like:

  • Do you know why pennies are called cents?
  • What coin is 10 pennies?
  • How much money do you have if you have 100 pennies?

Help the students make a place value chart and show the bills and coins that represent each of the place values.  The place value chart will have a dime and a penny pasted on it to show 0.10 and 0.01.  It helps to see the place value and the value of the coin together.

Talk about the word “cent” and brainstorm other words that have “cent” in it.  Words like “century” and “centennial”.  Look for a common root word and learn how “cent” means 100.

Then, on the place value chart have a visual of 1 penny, along with $0.01, “1 cent” as well as 1/100 and “one hundredth”.   All of these ways to name that place.  And all of them represent 1 out of 100 pennies to equal one whole dollar.  This helps students see the relationship between names, coins, place value, fractions and decimals.

The place value chart also helps to show how 10 pennies equals 10 cents. This is written as $0.10 and is equal to 1 dime or 1/10 of a dollar.

The chart can be fun to make.  If you can find editable dollar bills and coins, you can even put pictures of teachers at your school on the money and create a place value chart to show place value using money.  You can use real coins, but fake bills.  The students can compare amounts and start to see how they can add pennies with pennies and dimes with dimes.

Once you have the chart, hold up a quarter and ask where the place value for a quarter is.  Then talk about the word “quarter” and think about ways to write it.  Students may share that a quarter is equal to 25 pennies, which is 25 cents.  It helps to emphasize these words to show that 25 cents also means 25 out of 100 or 25 hundredths, 25/100.  Show that it is $0.25 and even talked about how one quarter was ¼ of a dollar.  1 fourth of 100 is also 25!

Have students practice their place value and coins and then talk about the activity, ask:

  • Have you ever seen a coin machine at work?

You can show the image or describe how people dump jars of change into the machine and then get a receipt printed out.  They can then take the receipt and cash it in for bills.

Money as Decimal Numbers, Money as Decimals, Money as Fractions

Explain that the students will become the change machine.  You could set the scene by explaining that the power is out so they have to count the coins and create the receipt by hand.  The only way we can cash out the receipt is if it is written in correct decimal form.

Students will grab handfuls of coins, count it out, and write the value in decimal form.

They will then give the receipt and the coins to their partner.  The partner must read the decimal value, recount the coins and then use fake money to “cash out” the receipt, using the fewest coins possible.  Students will record their values on the Chart on page 4 of the Writing Money as Decimals Worksheet.

Money as Decimal Numbers, Money as Decimals, Money as Fractions

For example:

Student A grabs:  45 pennies, 2 dimes and 4 quarters.  Students might add it up as they find the coin, or they might group them together.  Students may just count cents.  This is a good way to show how decimals can be represented in fraction form as well.  If they count up and get 165, that means it is equal to 165 cents.  165 cents is 165 hundredths or 165/100.  Students can see that they have more than 100 cents.  165/100 is 100/100 = 1 and 65/100.  So it is 1 whole and 65/100 = 1.65

No matter how they count it up, they should write a receipt for $1.65.

$0.45  +  $0.20  + 1.00 = $1.65


Student B :  Takes the receipt.  Recounts the money to check that the total is correct.  And gives Student A 1 dollar, 2 quarters, a dime and a nickel.  (fake money, or draws it out)

Students can then switch roles and “grab” more change and count it out.

Reflection on Money as Decimals

Have students discuss their method for counting their coins and what they did to convert it to write it in decimal form.

Talk about how the coins have different values and ask questions such as “Why don’t we just have pennies (hundredths) and dimes (tenths)?”  or “Why don’t we have only place value coins?”

Ask question such as:

  • Did you want to grab a large handful of coins?
  • Was it easier to count after you knew the “receipt” amount?
  • How did you decide what to give your partner when they “cashed in” their receipt?
  • Would it be easier to add receipts or just add piles of coins?

Questions and practice located on the Writing Money as Decimals Worksheet page 5.


Extensions for Teaching Money as Decimals


  • Have students make the matching cards (described above) and use them to play “Go Fish”

FREE Money as Decimals Worksheets and Resources

These are all PDF Files. They will open and print easily. The Student Edition Files are labeled SE and the Teacher Editions Files are labeled TE. Click the links below to download the different resources.

Money as Decimal Numbers Worksheets and Resources

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  • 6-6 Assignment SE – Money as Decimal Numbers  (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Assignment TE – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Bell Work SE – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Bell Work TE – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Exit Quiz SE – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Exit Quiz TE – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Guided Notes SE – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Guided Notes TE – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Interactive Notebook – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Lesson Plan – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Online Activities – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)
  • 6-6 Slideshow – Money as Decimal Numbers (Member Only)

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