Coin Puzzlers - problem solving with money less than $1 task cards & printables

Grade Levels
1st, 2nd, 3rd
Common Core Standards
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Help build your students’ proficiency with identifying, counting, and computing with money amounts less than $1 with this set of problem-based task cards and printables – provided with both color and black & white graphics. The 32 task cards will provide your students with the necessary practice to build their ability to apply their understanding of money in problem-solving situations . Extend your students’ practice (or assess their level of mastery) with the two included assessment activities. With this set of print-and-go resources, your students will grow stronger in their understanding of money and problem solving.


Common Core State Standards for Mathematics addressed:
Measurement and Data (2.MD)
Work with time and money.
• Solve word problems involving quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately. (2.MD.8)


• 2 graphic reference sheets (color/black & white outline versions)
• 32 task cards (color and black & white outline versions)
• 8 self-checking “answer cards”
• task card answer sheet and key
• 2 assessment activities and key (color and black & white outline versions)

About the Cards

This set was designed to build students’ proficiency with coins by providing engaging problem-solving situations in which they could practice identifying and counting coins. The amounts of money used on the cards are all less than one dollar so students will not have to cross the dollar benchmark to solve any of the presented problems. The majority of the cards feature pictures of coins, with both the front and back of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies used, and students will have to count the sets of mixed coins as part of working through the card. Since colored images do not always print well, I am providing two versions of all of the materials in this set– one version where the coins are presented in color and another version that uses blackline outlines of the coins.

Most of the cards are multiple choice and some are short answer. The short answer questions require students to give an amount of money as an answer (e.g., 73¢). Among the multiple choice cards, some cards have problems that have one correct answer and others have problems where there is more than one answer. For these, the students have to choose all of the correct responses. These “multiple correct answer” problems are identified by the phase select all that apply after the question is given.

There are eight different problem types on the cards, with each the eight problem types divided among the 32 cards in sets of 4. Every four cards (cards 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, etc.) are formatted similarly and present similar types of problems. Cards 1 through 4, for instance, present sets of coins and students have to read three statements about the value of the coins and determine which of the three statements are true, while cards 5 through 8 present a sequence of numbers that an hypothetical student said when counting up his or her coins (such as, “10…20…21…22…23”), and the students have to use the sequence to reason what coins the child had. The cards are roughly in order of difficulty, with easier cards at the beginning of the set and harder cards at the end of the set.

Using the Cards

The organization of the problem types allow for scaffolded practice. Since the cards were designed in progressively difficult sets of four, you can use this structure to meet the diverse needs within your class. Decide which set of four cards you want your student to work with and then differentiate based on your students’ levels of proficiency with the target concept. You may:

1) have your students work through all four at a time while you circulate and provide guided support;
2) work through the first card together and then have students use the other three as paired or independent practice.;
3) have your more able students complete the cards on their own while you provide guidance to a small group; or,
4) have students work in pairs to complete the first two and then complete the other two on their own.

Beyond the suggestions above, there are lots of ways in which you can implement the task cards. You can have the students work on them independently, working through the task cards on their own. The students can work on them in pairs or small groups, completing all the task cards in one session. You can use them in centers, having the students complete 6-8 task cards a day over the course of the week. You can even use them as a variation of “problem of the day”, giving each student 1 sheet of 4 cards to glue in their journals and solve, one sheet per day for eight days.

Reinforcing and Assessing Understanding

The printables consist of two graphic reference sheets and two different two-page assessment activities. One of the reference sheets is half-page in size and features images of the fronts and backs of a quarter, a dime, a nickel, and a penny. Each pair of images includes the name of the coin pictured, the value of the coin, correct use of ¢ and $ symbols when representing the value of each coin (i.e., 5¢ and $0.05), and the number of each coin needed to equal one dollar. Your students can use the journal inserts as guides while they work on the cards, as well as when they complete other tasks that relate to coins.

The other reference sheet is full-page is size and is designed to be the springboard for a class discussion about how to count coins efficiently and accurately. This sheet features images of a set of coins, representations of how three hypothetical students counted the coins, and a number of open-ended questions prompting students to examine the different methods presented. You can have your students work in pairs or small groups to read over the information and questions, discuss their responses with their peers, and then share out with the group. You could even have your students respond in writing to the questions on the reference sheet.

The two provided assessment activities can be used to evaluate student understanding of problem solving with coins. The activity sheets are formatted similarly, and have similar types of questions, though the numbers on each are different. You can use these activity pages in a variety of ways. You could give one as a pre-test, then teach your lesson and allow students to practice with the task cards, and then give the second worksheet as an independent post-test. [The question types on the assessment tasks are the same as the question types on the cards, making them ideal as pre- & post-assessments]. The activity sheets could also be given as homework, center assignments, or any other purpose that fits your teaching style or classroom routines.

For more practice with number relationships, please check out the other related resources I have available –

Broken Rulers measure to the nearest inch & half-inch task cards + printables (set a)

Self-Checking Math Riddles – Reasonableness of Sums/Differences

Snow Bonds: +, –, x, ÷ number relationships task cards + printables (set a)

Self-Checking Math Riddles – Rounding to the Nearest 10 and 100

Line 'Em Up reasoning about number lines task cards + printables (set a)

I hope your students enjoy these resources and are able to build their proficiency with money and problem solving. – Dennis McDonald
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Coin Puzzlers - problem solving with money less than $1 ta
Coin Puzzlers - problem solving with money less than $1 ta
Coin Puzzlers - problem solving with money less than $1 ta
Coin Puzzlers - problem solving with money less than $1 ta