The end of spring break means we are in the midst of our school’s spring financial literacy unit. This is always a favorite of both students and teachers. We ground our work in very concrete community related activities, such as going to the bank and going to the store. Students love spending money and teachers love going on community walks in the spring and early summer. Everyone wins!

Before we start going on trips, I wanted to do some number sense work with my classes relating to the counting of money. As we left for spring break I tweeted about an estimation idea inspired by counting money.

Money counting practice today led to this #estimation180 idea! How much money in the stack? @Estimation180@gfletchypic.twitter.com/0C8P1W49UR

— Andrew Gael (@bkdidact) April 2, 2015

Right on cue, Graham Fletcher, who writes his own amazing blog here, gave me some sage advice.

@bkdidact@Estimation180 maybe don’t share the chart piece up front and hold on until after initial guess. See who wants to change 1st guess

— Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy) April 2, 2015

I took Graham’s advice and ran with it. As much as we like our money math standards to relate to identification of coins and bills and getting accurate counts on prices and change, estimation is a key skill in any “real world” financial transaction. When was the last time you stood at the supermarket register counting out the entire pile of change you got from the cashier? Generally, we look at the coins in our hand and make a quick estimate as to whether we think it is the correct change or not. So I used the idea from my tweet, took some inspiration from fellow math teachers Andrew Stadel and Joe Schwartz, and turned it all into a financial literacy lesson.

Here’s how it went…