Teaching Students About Money

Teach your young learners the value of money with a wide variety of classroom activities and projects.

By Elisa Jackson


Teaching Students About Money

As adults, everything we buy, or want to purchase, has a price tag. Some of us are smart with money, and some of us are less responsible. As teachers, it is important to teach students the value of money and how to be responsible with it. It is also important to show them the consequences of being irresponsible with money.

The first thing young students need to learn is the value of coins and bills. Students can use play money to complete hands on activities in class. They will need to identify the values of different coins and bills, and be given opportunities to practice adding up different amounts. It is important to give students real life examples of how money is used. For example, you could tell them about a time that you wanted to buy a hot chocolate, and had to add up the money in your wallet to see if you had enough. The examples don't have to be complicated.

Once students understand the value of money, the next step is to practice exchanging money for goods. One way to do this is to create a class store. Students can "sell" school supplies such as pencils, pens, erasers, notebooks, etc. Parents can donate these items to the classroom, and students can buy them with a supply of play money they receive. They will learn that goods cost a certain amount, and once that money is spent, they have the good, but no longer have the money. Once the money has run out, students will see that they can't buy any more goods. 

As students become more familiar with the exchanges one can make for money, you can teach them how to create a budget. This can be a year-long project in which students are given play money at the beginning of each month, which simulates a paycheck. They then are invited to purchase certain items. These items can be paper and pencils, crayons, notebooks, even homework passes. If students run out of money before the end of the month, they will need to survive on what they have and will not be able to make any further purchases. This is one of the most important lessons you can teach your students. Money doesn't just "appear." Once it's gone, it's gone! 

These are just a few ideas on how to introduce young students to the value of money, and how to be responsible with it. Below are some activities to help students understand the value of money.

Teaching Students About Money:

Money Counts

Students count and compare money amounts less than one dollar. This lesson is especially good for students who are just learning about money.

Money Systems

In this money unit, students explore the history of money and practice making change. This valuable lesson could be a precursor to opening up a class store.


This interesting lesson shows students how banks pay interest to people who save their money with them. This important monetary concept is cleverly taught. Students see how to calculate interest, and practice coming up with the interest paid on imaginary bank accounts.

Family Budget

In this budget worksheet, students work with their parents to calculate their family budget and create a pie chart to observe where their money goes. This would be a great family homework activity for a unit on money.

Australian Money Worksheets

Learners investigate currency and exchange rates.  In the middle school mathematics lesson, students use ratio and proportion to convert from Australian currency to the U.S. dollar and vice versa.