Money for starters


There are two key intended learning outcomes for this unit. Students will become familiar with NZ currency and students will be able to identify and compare the values of different units of currency. Students will recognise note and coin values, and know the number of 10c in amounts that are multiples of 10.

Achievement Objectives
NA1-1: Use a range of counting, grouping, and equal-sharing strategies with whole numbers and fractions.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Recognise NZ notes and coins.
  • Compare values of NZ coins.
  • Skip count in 10s.
  • Use coins to make totals.
Description of Mathematics

Operating with money allows for practise in addition (with or without materials as required) as well as development of skip counting in 5s and 10s.

Opportunities for Adaptation and Differentiation

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing or removing support to students and by varying the task requirements. Ways to differentiate include:

  • encouraging students to image the coins, or allowing them to continue to use materials, as appropriate
  • allowing students to continue to use a hundreds chart if required.

The activities in this can be adapted to make them more interesting by adding contexts that are familiar to them, for example, use problems that involve buying things that are of particular interest to your students. If you have students from different countries, or who know someone that has travelled they could be encouraged to bring in examples of foreign money.

Required Resource Materials

Getting started

  1. Introduce the topic of money – possibly read a story featuring money or shopping.
  2. Brainstorm – what do you know about money?
    What types of money are there? (accept different currencies, credit cards, cheques etc, as well as different denominations of coins and notes).
  3. Get students to describe the different coins/notes –
    What colour is...?
    What is there a picture of on...?
  4. If possible show some real examples – possibly not of the $50 and $100 notes though!
  5. Give each student a copy of the New Zealand Money copymaster.
  6. Students can colour notes and coins appropriate colours – if you can print a copy in colour for them to refer to it would be helpful or project images of notes onto the whiteboard from the internet.


  1. One of the first things students need to understand about money is the relative values of the coins.  This can be emphasised through a series of questions about ‘how many?’  It is best if students can use materials to support them if possible – either real coins, play money, or photocopied and cut out coins (Coins copymaster).
    How many 10 cent coins make 20 cents?
    How many 10 cent coins make 50 cents?
    How many 10 cent coins make a dollar?
      (Students need also to understand that there are 100 cents in a dollar.)
    How many 20 cent coins make a dollar?
    How many 50 cent coins make a dollar?

    To answer these questions easily, students will need to be able to skip count in 10s. Practise with small denominations of coins to help students develop their skip counting. Support students with the 100s board if needed, by putting a 10 cent coin at the end of each row of 10 until they get to 100.
  2. Once students have had practise making totals with coins of one denomination, they should move on to combining denominations. Start with an easy question like:
    How many ways can I have coins that add up to 20 cents? (2 ways – 1x20c or 2x10c).
    Move on to questions with more combinations possible:
    How many ways can you make 50 cents?
    have three coins that total 40 cents – what are they?

    I have 5 coins that make a dollar – what could they be?
    These ideas can be reinforced by using a shop scenario. Allocate prices to a collection of items and let students make combinations of coins to total the same amount as the prices.
  3. Another important money idea is understanding that when we are buying items, we have to give at least enough money.  More often than not in actual fact we give more money than is required and receive change.  Ask a series of questions about what one coin could be used to buy items of various prices.  At Level 1 most students will probably not be able to work out correct change for this type of question but more able students may be extended in this area.
    What coin could you use to buy a post card that costs 40 cents?
    What coin could you use to buy a pencil that costs 70 cents?
    What coin could you use to buy an ice cream that costs $1.50

    This is a topic in maths that students at this level will have had a varying range of experience in. Because of this you will probably want to divide your class and work with smaller groups for this part of the unit.  Below are a few suggestions of money activities students not working with the teacher could do:
    1. Practise skip counting in tens by making up totals by cutting out paper coins and pasting them on paper to make 40c, 50c, etc
    2. Make combinations of coins that total to 50c, $1 or $2. Cut out paper coins and paste on paper to show their work.
    3. Play shops with other students
    4. Play detective and use a magnifying glass to examine a collection of real coins stored in a cloth bag or change purse.  Draw or describe what they see.
    5. For interest's sake, show collections of foreign coins or invite a coin collector to visit the class and discuss his/her hobby.
    6. Do rubbings of various coins using coloured chalk or crayons.  These can also be enlarged on the photocopier for an interesting display.


Make a class display by having students cut and paste coins onto a piece of paper and then write a sentence under them.  You could ask students to make coins total a given amount (alter the amount according to individual students’ ability) and then write a sentence in the form "Five 20 cent pieces and two 10 cent pieces makes one dollar and 20 cents."

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Level One