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Math Manipulatives: It’s Only Money!

My Favorite Hands-On Free Math Manipulative

Use real money as math manipulatives!
One of the best teaching tools for math—and it’s free.

Which math manipulative can you:

  • Recycle.
  • Resell for 100% of what it cost you and pay no fees.
  • Watch your children really, really enjoy learning about money?

Put it into a plastic zippy bag—I like the heavy-duty freezer ones—and put it to work.

Place Value

Not only can you teach your children about money with real money, but you can use it to teach place value.

Use pennies for the one’s place, dimes for the ten’s place, and dollars for the hundred’s place.

For larger bills, my children made fake money. It’s only money, but there’s a limit to how much I can throw around.

Make Change

Does it bother you that people can’t make change unless the cash register tells them how much?

Use real money to teach your children how to make changethe old fashioned wayby starting with the amount spent and handing the money back until you reach the amount given.


Yes, use it to teach regrouping. Make columns on a piece of paper to represent ones, tens, and hundreds. Then choose a problem and substitute money for the numbers. Place the money on the paper in the appropriate columns and regroup to show the answer.

How Much Do You Need?

It takes about $5.00 worth of change to do most of the basics, but it’s worth a lot more to your learners!


BJU Press Homeschool Kits K-12.

BJU Press Curriculum
Grades K-12

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