Author Archive for Sam T

Counting Money: Second Grade

Throughout the elementary grades, students learn to work with and manage money. In second grade, the relevant money concepts are addressed in Standard of Learning 2.11. In this SOL, students should learn to count and compare a collection of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies whose total is $2.00 or less. Along with that, students should understand that different coin combinations can be used to make equal amounts. They should also learn about the correct usage of money symbols throughout this unit.



The Penny Pot by Stuart Murphy, Illustrated by Lynn Cravath

In The Penny Pot, the students are getting their faces painted at the school fair and Jessie wants to join in on the fun. She has a problem though – it costs 50 cents to get your face painted, and she only has 39 cents! At the table, there is a penny pot where students put their extra change, so Jessie waits and counts the extra change until she has enough money to get her face painted. This is a great book to help students visualize counting money. The pictures of the coins are authentic looking and will translate well to classroom activities with money.


The Big Buck Adventure by Shelley Gill and Deborah Tobola, Illustrated by Grace Lin

In The Big Buck Adventure, a young girl receives a dollar allowance from her dad and is dropped off at a store with hopes to spend her new money. The book explores several different ways that she could spend her money. Each combination of items is described in poem form and the pictures show the objects clearly marked with price tags. This is an effective way for students to see the use of money and prices in real life.


Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst, Illustrated by Ray Cruz

Alexander's grandparents gave him a dollar last Sunday, and he quickly realizes that he can spend that dollar in many different ways! The book Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday is a great way to show students how money that is spent is subtracted from the total amount. There are several fantastic lesson plans to go along with this book.


Pigs Will be Pigs by Amy Axelrod, Illustrated by Sharon McGinley

 After finishing off all of their groceries, Mr.Pig, Mrs.Pig, and their two piglets are still hungry but their piggy bank is empty – how will they be able to buy more food? They decide to hunt for their money around the house. Readers of Pigs Will Be Pigs are invited to count along as the pigs find money throughout the rooms of the house. In the end, the money is totaled and the pig family travels to a Mexican restaurant to eat. This book is fitting to the SOL because the students are able to watch the totals change as money is added, as well as look at the menu at the restaurant to see how it is spent.


How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty by Nathan Zimelman, Illustrated by Bill Slavin

 Students at Newton Barnaby School are on a mission – to fund a field trip to the Statue of Liberty. The second grade students in How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty embark on all sorts of projects to raise money – lemonade stand, car wash, candy sale, etc. As readers, students are able to follow the second grade class' journey and help total the money that the class is raising.


  • In the Dollar Store Game, students are told that they are buying different items from the dollar store – everything is a dollar or less! They are given an item that they need to pay for, and then using the variety of coins on the lefthand side, they must drag the correct amount to the cashier at the bottom of the screen.
  • In the Counting Money game, students are presented with a line of coins, including quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. As quick as they can, they must count the coins, add up the value, and type it into the box. They can then check their own answers by clicking on the "Check" button.
  • The game Piggy Bank is another way to reinforce students understanding that different coin combinations can be used to make equal values. Students are given a certain monetary amount and then as coins are dropped into a grid, students click on the coins they want to use to make that amount.
  • In this lunch food game, students are given a menu with different food items. They are then told how much a certain item is and must drag the right amount of money, in coin form, to the checkout in order to pay for their food.
  • In this interactive coin game, the students are given a money total at the top of screen. They then must drag a combination of coins to the top of the chute. As the coins roll down the chute into the jar, the students can watch the value increase until they have made the correct amount.

Additional Resources

  • This literature site details specific ways to integrate childrens books into math lessons, and more specifically into the study of money in the lower elementary grades. The site gives 8 examples of books related to money and then provides activities and ideas for lessons to go along with those books.
  • Money Money is a set of 11 lesson plans that essentially outlines the unit of exploring coins and money in the second grade. The lessons focus on the objectives that students will be able to identify coins, coin values, and the concept that equal amounts can be reached through different coin combinations. It includes a variety of types of lessons, many that are based on children's literature and that are very interactive.
  • The game Clean Up the Money uses a 24-space game board, which the players fill in with 6 nickels, 6 pennies, 6 dimes, and 6 quarters. Then they roll two dice to get an ordered pair. Whatever coin is on that ordered pair, they take and put in a pile. At the end of the game, the students must count their money to find a winner. The great thing about this game is that students will get lots of different coin combinations and it is a great way to integrate ordered pairs into another math concept.
  • The U.S. Mint website is chock full of lesson plans and information regarding coins, the history of money, and how money has changed over time. The lesson plans are sorted both by grade and by subject, and there are some great 2nd grade ones about counting money and making different combinations of coins.

Economics Ideas: Human Resources

In elementary school, students are learn about human, natural, and capital resources as part of their economics unit. These resources are closely related to the student’s study of goods and services. Human resources are defined as people who work to provide services or to produce goods.



Abuela’s Weave is a story that follows Esperanza and her Abuela as they work hard on their weaving to prepare goods to sell in the village. They live in a small, market town in Guatemala and must provide for their family with the money that they make. This story is a great way to illustrate the process of producing a good and how the end result plays out.


The book How Santa Got His Job follows Santa from the beginning of his career, to his final job as the Santa Claus we know today. It begins with him as a chimney sweeper, and details his journey from job to job, as he learns many different skills that eventually lead to him becoming Santa Claus. For example, he works at the post office to learn about delivering packages, he works at the zoo, where he falls in love with reindeer, and so on. This is a great book to illustrate how different types of human resources require very specific skills, many of which are learned skills.


Human resources typically are working to provide a service or create a product. In this book, students can explore how one good (in this case, a book) goes through many different stages of production and requires lots of human resources. The author, Aliki, has provided two different levels of text. The big text is very basic and follows the simple story line, while the smaller text is much more detailed and describes the finer points of book production. This would be a great way to use the book for various ages or to differentiate a classroom.


Eric Carle uses his whimsical collage-style illustration to tell the story of Walter the baker in this book. Walter is the main baker for the Duke and Duchess of his home town and his specialty is his sweet rolls. When he gets to asked to make a type of roll that the sun can shine through three times, he must rush to meet the challenge. The story follows his journey of producing the new type of roll, which in turn illustrates how a human resource (the baker) uses specific skills to produce a product.


All of Charlie’s friends and family tell him that he needs a new cloak. He is a poor shepherd so he cannot afford to buy himself a new one – he decides instead to make one! The story follows his production of a beautiful new red cloak, from shearing his sheep to weaving and dying the cloth to sewing the actual cloak. The idea that specific skills are required to make various products is reiterated for students in this book.


1. In this website, students can explore different jobs and what those jobs entail. It also helps students understand that different human resources play different roles in our community.

2. In this matching game, the students must match the human resource with their role in the community. It is an interesting way for students to explore the different skills required for jobs.\

3. This site is a huge database of jobs that are sorted by skill and interest. Students can go to the site, choose a subject area or area of interest, and then the site guides them through many different career options. This could be part of a fun webquest!

4. This is another matching game, but this time the students must explore which human resource pairs up with which capital resource.

5. Here is a webquest that allows students not only to explore human resources, but also the concepts of natural resources, capital resources, and goods and services. In the end, students create a simple product and must present and advertise it to the class.

Additional Resources

1. This is a great lesson plan based on the book The Tortilla Factory by Gary Paulsen. The lesson reviews capital, natural, and human resources and includes a fun craft.

2. Another great lesson plan, this activity takes students through the process of making crayons. Crayons are something that all kids love and can relate to, and it’s a process that they may not know about. The lesson focuses on how resources are used in the crayon production.

3. This upper elementary lesson plan helps students explore different jobs and what those jobs entail. As they read about different jobs around the community, they begin to understand how specific the skills are for each human resource in our community.

4. For lower elementary students, this lesson plan is a great way to familiarize them with the concepts of natural, capital, and human resources. The lesson plan focuses on a very well known story – The Three Little Pigs!


The Rainforest

In third grade, students begin their investigation of the habitats of the world, which are divided into water-related environments and dry-land environments (VA Science SOL 3.6). One of the prominent habitats that is covered is the rainforest. The resources provided below cover everything ranging from the climate of the rainforest, to the plants and animals, to what medicines are derived from the rainforest. Another important aspect that is talked about in several of the resources is that of conservation and endangered animals. Several books and websites help students understand why the rainforest is important, what is happening to it, and what we can do to help.

Childrens Literature


A is For Anaconda By Anthony D. Fredericks; Illustrated by Laura Regan

This book is a great way to introduce students to importance of the rainforest and the different types of life that exist there. Each page is a different letter of the alphabet, which corresponds to a part of the rainforest, ranging from animals and plants to medicines derived from the area. The illustrations, done by Laura Regan, are stunning and give the students a clear picture of scenes in the rainforest. It is also a great resource for talking about endangered animals because biologist Fredericks features several different endangered animals in the book.


The Great Kapok Tree By Lynne Cherry

This is another great book to help students appreciate the significance of the rainforest and recognize why conservation is so important. The story begins with a man who is trying to chop down a huge kapok tree in the rainforest. He falls asleep while he is working, and throughout the course of the day, many different animals, and in the end, a child, visit him and describe to him the consequences of destroying the rainforest habitat. When he awakens and sees all of the animals around him, he puts down his ax and leaves the tree standing. Much like the previous book, this is a great resource for teaching about endangered animals.


Rain, Rain, Rainforest By Brenda Z. Guiberson; Illustrated by Steve Jenkins

In this book, Guiberson takes the students on a journey following different animals through their typical days in the rainforest. The use of onomatopeia and animal sounds characterize the story, along with Jenkins unique collage style of illustration.


The Rainforest Grew All Around By Susan K. Mitchell; Illustrated by Connie McLennan

For teachers who like interactive books and activities, this would be a great choice because it can be used as a sing-along. This song "The Green Grass Grew All Around" is adapted to the rainforest setting and can be read poetically or sung out loud. While the song itself uses very simple terms, there are sidebars on each page that describe in more detail certain animals or plants that are talked about in the song.


Jaguar in the Rainforest by Joanne Ryder; Illustrated by Michael Rothman

Well written and beautifully illustrated, this book takes students into the life of a jaguar, one of the most feared predators in the rainforest. As the jaguar travels around the rain forest, the students learn about the climate, animals and plants that surround him in his habitat.


This website is a great resource for habitats in general (links can be found at the top of the page), but especially for studying the rainforest. Unlike other sites that I have seen, this one introduces the idea of temperate versus tropical rainforests and gives plenty of information on the climate, plants, animals, and life of each.

Although it would take some scaffolding and direction on the teachers part because it is a dense website, this site is a great resource. It is put out by National Geographic and is chock full of beautiful pictures and great information.

Run by a former teacher, this site answers lots of questions about what a rainforest is, why they are disappearing, and why they are an important part of our world. There is also a cute section of the website called "Mongy's Adventures" that follows a little tree frog through the rainforest.

This website is a great resource for very specific information about aspects of the rainforest. It is split into three sections: geosystem, ecosystem, and researchers. Each category is broken down into lots of smaller topics and the information presented is very detailed and complete.

This site is one of few interactive websites that I could find about the rainforest. It is run by PBS and is based on the Amazon. Students can click on different parts of the Amazon to learn about them or can play a game based on a journey into the Amazon.

Teacher Resources

This list of student activities was put out by the Rainforest Action Network and has some really neat ideas. The ones that caught my eye were the rainforest pen pals and the create your own rainforest in your classroom!

Thinking Fountain created this cute activity to help students learn about the layers of the rainforest and the animals that live there.

Webquests are always a hit with students, and this one is great. It is specifically aimed at third grade and sends them on a journey to broadcast a TV show on the "Rainforest Explorer Network".

If your students need a great visual of the rainforest, this site provides different video clips of animals in the rainforest. They are quick to load and don't require downloading!