by Cortney Pope (who just earned a $35 gift card for submitting this idea to firstname.lastname@example.org)
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When teaching money to my first graders, I use an activity called Cookie Math. I found the idea online, but have adapted it to my students’ first-grade needs and standards. The students love this, and it really helps them learn the value of counting money in the real world.
Materials Needed (I usually ask for parents to help out and send in items)
sugar cookies (one per student)
blunt knife to spread icing
toppings: M&Ms, candy corn, red hots, gummy bears, sprinkles, etc.
play money (coins)
1. This activity should be done after the money unit/lessons are complete.*
2. Explain to the class that they are going to be able to decorate (and eat!) a real cookie today!
3. Tell them, “The cookie is my gift to you, but you have to purchase all the toppings.”
4. Explain that they will each be given a cookie and $1.00 to spend on toppings. (Give children $1.00 in coins with which to pay.)
5. As a class, make a list of prices for each of the toppings available. (I have an idea already of how much toppings should cost, i.e. icing 50 cents, candy corn 3 cents each, etc.)
6. Students will decide how to spend their money according to what they want on their cookies.
7. Call the students up to your table three or four at a time, and help them decide how to spend their money.
8. Then, simply eat and enjoy!
*You may need to provide extra help for students who are struggling with counting money to ensure that they are able to participate.
Cortney Pope holds a bachelor’s degree in teaching preK-fourth grade from Carson-Newman College. She also holds a master’s degree in reading from Grand Canyon University. She teaches first grade at City Park School in Dalton, Georgia. When she’s not at school, she enjoys working with the students from her church and spending time with her husband.