Cookie Math: A Yummy Way to Teach Counting

by Cortney Pope (who just earned a $35 gift card for submitting this idea to

Comment on this post (just click “Leave a Comment” above) and you could win a $20 School Box gift card. Two comments each week win!

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.



Filed under Math, Motivation, Teaching

3 responses to “Cookie Math: A Yummy Way to Teach Counting

  1. Brittany Hall

    Great activity, Cortney! Students always love activities that involve eating while learning. This is a great way for students to use what they have learned in the money unit/lessons in a practical way. I think this activity can be tailored to several different grade levels, too.

  2. Summer

    This is a great idea! My boys always pay attention when sweets are around.

  3. Jamie cooper

    That is a great idea! I am always looking for unique ways to involve learning with sinple everyday activities! Thanks for sharing!