Making Change

Contributor: Rachel Lewis. Lesson ID: 12136

Unless you carry a zillion pennies around with you, you rarely have the exact amount of money needed to buy something, so you usually pay more and get change. Learn to figure out the correct amount!


Arithmetic, Arithmetic, Measurement and Data

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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You want to buy an ice cream cone for $5.25, but you only have a ten-dollar bill. Will you get enough change back to buy some candy bars for $1.30 each? If so, how many?

We do not always have the exact amount of money we need.

Sometimes, we will need to get change back or make change. So, how do we find the correct change?

To begin, let’s review adding and subtracting money amounts.

To add and subtract money, we must line up the decimal points. First, we add or subtract the cents, the numbers after the decimal. Then, we add or subtract the dollars, the numbers before the decimal:

    $ 3 2 . 5 0     $ 4 6 . 2 0
  + $ 2 1 . 4 0   - $ 3 5 . 1 0
    $ 5 3 . 9 0     $ 1 1 . 1 0


Now, use your addition and subtraction skills to make change.

Read through this Making Change activity from STUDY JAMS! (This video requires Adobe Flash Player. If you have trouble playing the video, have a parent or teacher help you download Flash Player.).

  1. Click the green STEP BY STEP button to begin.
  2. Read or listen to the problem.
  3. Use the NEXT and Show me! buttons to move on to the next steps.
  4. Take notes of each step in your math notebook or on a separate sheet of paper.

What four steps can you use to make change?

  1. Identify the cost.
  2. Identify the amount paid.
  3. Subtract the cost from the amount paid. The difference will be the change.
  4. Make the change.

Share what you learned with a parent or teacher.

Next, you will learn how to add money to make change. Go to the next example by clicking the WATCH OUT! tab at the top of the Scholastic STUDY JAMS! site. Write down the five steps used in the Counting Up method.

  1. Identify the total cost.
  2. Identify the amount paid.
  3. Count up from the cost to the amount paid, starting with the coins.
  4. Continue counting up from the cost to the amount paid with dollar bills.
  5. Count the change as you hand it over.

Use your new strategies in the Got It? section. You will try some practice problems on your own.

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