Piggy Bank Math

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Mathematics, Operations (+, -, x, /, etc.), Problem Solving

Grade 3- 5


Students use coin values to solve problems.


Introduce the lesson by showing students a variety of coins and coin combinations.

  • Bertha Biggspender broke open her piggy bank.
  • She had a total of seven coins worth $0.19.
  • Which coins did she have?

To solve problems of this type, you need to know three things:
  • the number of coins
  • the total amount of money
  • any kinds of coins not included

Pennies First
Always do the pennies first in these problems. To have $0.19, Bertha had to have at least 4 pennies because pennies are the only coins which could be used for the last four cents. This leaves $0.15 to be accounted for and three remaining coins. The only coins which will work for this combination of money are three nickels.
Make a Chart
Record the information on a chart like this:

Number of Coins

Amount of Money

4 pennies


3 nickels


Totals: 7 coins


Challenging Problems
Bertha Biggspender found her wallet which had seven coins worth $0.91.
She did not have any dimes or half dollars. Which coins did she have?
Do the pennies first--she had to have at least one penny. There were not enough coins to have more than one penny. She has six coins which equal $0.90. She had no dimes and no half dollars so the combination must include only quarters and nickels. A total of three quarters and three nickels will work.

Number of Coins

Amount of Money

1 penny


3 quarters


3 nickels


Totals: 7 coins


  • Make a chart.
  • Do pennies first.
  • Do not forget half dollars.
  • Match exact number of coins.
  • Match exact amount of money.


  • Piggy Bank Math activity pages
  • pencils

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