Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Cyber Currency, Currently
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into five sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extensions -- Additional activities


Duplicate the student pages found on the Student Organizers page before beginning each activity: Web sites Organizer, Currency Definitions Organizer, Divisibility Organizer, Current Currency Examples Organizer, My Own Currency Organizer, General Store Organizer, Items for Sale Organizer.

Media Components

Computer Resources:
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM and/or Macintosh computer running System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
Video Resources:

CYBERCHASE, "Trading Places" episode


Students will need the following supplies:

  • Computers with the capacities indicated above
  • Notebook or journal
  • Scissors
  • Pens/pencils
  • Handouts of Web resources if computers are not available in the classroom

Teachers will need the following supplies:

  • TV and VCR - for Activity 1 and Activity 6 (summary)
  • Chalkboard, overhead projector, and/or chart paper
  • Markers
  • One standard die

Bookmarked sites:

TIP: Bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson and create a word processing document listing all of the links to distribute to students. Preview all of the sites and videos before presenting them to your class.
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Introductory Activity:
Materials you will need for this activity:
  • Three large sheets of paper
  • Markers

  • Begin the lesson with two pieces of paper on the wall. On the first sheet of paper, place a large K at the top; on the second piece, a large W. These two sheets will form 2/3 of a KWL chart. A KWL chart lists the things that students Know about a topic in the first column, the things they Want to know in the second column, and, after the lesson or unit is completed, the things they Learned in the third column. For this introductory activity, the class will complete the K and W charts; the L chart will be completed at the end of the unit.

  • Ask students, “What do you know about our system of money? In particular, what do you know about how money is used to buy things? At a store, do you give something to get something in return? When you want something that a neighbor has, do you give something to her or him to get it?”

  • On the K paper, make a list of all the things that students mention about the currency system. As this list may be quite extensive, list only the most important ideas that are mentioned. Since many students will be able to discuss various aspects of money quite extensively, limit this discussion to 3-5 minutes, depending on the time you have available. Keep students focused on how money works (such as, taking out a loan for big purchases) and steer them away from minutia (like, there are 119 reeds on the circumference of a quarter).

  • When the K chart is filled, say to the students, “Okay, we’ve made a list of the things you know about money. What other things about money and trading, also called bartering, do you want to know?”

  • Make a list of student questions on the W paper. These questions will serve as a guide during the next several lessons. Note: Students will ask a lot of questions that you may not know the answer to, and they will certainly ask questions that are not covered by the following activities. That’s okay; use their ideas to generate further lessons or extensions.

  • Explain to students that over the next several days, they are going to learn about bartering, our currency system, and how money works. In the process, you’ll do your best to help them answer as many of their questions as you can.

    TIP: If you are unfamiliar with KWLs, more information can be found at the following Web sites.

    How to Use a KWL Chart kwl.html

    KWL Explanation -%20HTML/kwlexplanation.htm

    Explanation of KWL Charts

    Learning Activities:

    Activity 1:
    Bartering and Currency

    Materials you will need for this activity:
  • Explain to students that our system of money is actually a disguised bartering system. Say, “When we use money, we’re actually trading. Someone gives you $5 to mow their lawn, or you give someone $3 in exchange for a dozen jelly donuts. It’s bartering, but instead of trading items, we trade money for things we need or want. Let’s take a look at how things might work if we didn’t have money to use to buy things.”

  • Use the first part of the CYBERCHASE episode to introduce the concept of bartering to students. Play the tape until the café lady says, "You need parts? Try Odds 'n Ends." (This segment establishes ideas about trading things, with the Crispin C Valve exchanged by Buzz and Delete, and a Mark McGuire baseball card traded for three lemonades.)

    When the segment ends, conduct a brief discussion about the nature of bartering by asking the following questions:
    • What did the kids trade with Buzz and Delete for the crankshaft? (An electro-modulator.) Do you think that was a fair trade? Why or why not?
    • Why weren’t the kids able to trade with Buzz and Delete for the Crispin C Valve? (Because the kids didn’t have anything that Buzz and Delete wanted.)
    • What did the kids trade to get three lemonades? (Mark McGwire baseball card) Do you think that was a fair trade? Why or why not? (Depends on how much kids think the baseball card is worth)
    • What happened when the CYBERCHASE kids didn’t have anything to trade that the café lady wanted? (The kids couldn’t get anything else from her.)
    • When items are traded like this, instead of using money, it’s known as bartering. Do you think it would be possible to barter all the time, if we didn’t have money? Do you think there would be any problems? (Answers will vary, but kids might suggest that they have things others don’t want, or vice versa; items to trade might be heavy and hard to carry; what they have to trade might be worth more or less than what someone else has to trade; etc.)

  • Say, “That’s a good list you made. Bartering can have some problems. Let’s see how the CYBERCHASE kids deal with those problems.”

  • Use the remainder of the CYBERCHASE episode tape to show students how a system of currency is formed. (This segment begins right after the café lady says, "Try Odds 'n Ends.") Play the tape until after the kids pay for the booster battery with 114.5 donuts, and after Buzz and Delete try to steal it. Pause the tape at the end of the show, before the “For Real” segment starts.

  • Facilitate a discussion with students about the difficulty of using donuts and why our system of paper notes and metal coins is more practical. Ask the following questions to generate the discussion:
    • The CYBERCHASE kids used donuts as their form of money. Why did they choose donuts? (The cybercitizens thought that old donuts were very valuable, so a system based on what people feel is valuable is a good system. It could be shells, precious stones, as well as donuts!)
    • When the kids needed a lot of donuts, how did they carry them? (They put ten on a stick to form “donut sticks.”)
    • If the kids had to buy a really expensive item—like a rocket ship—and it cost 1,000,000 donuts, how many donut sticks would they need? (They’d need 100,000 donut sticks.) How many chocolate donuts would they need? (They’d need 50,000 chocolate donuts.) How would they carry that many donuts? (They probably couldn’t. The weight and sheer volume would make it almost impossible.)
    • What happened when the kids needed to buy just one bolt? (They paid for it by cutting a donut into four equal parts, and paid 1/4 donut.) Do you think it’s important that money can be divided? (Yes, or else you’d have to pay too much for some inexpensive items.)
    • What’s the basic unit of our American system of currency? (The dollar.) Is it possible to divide the dollar into smaller pieces? (Yes, we use coins for half-dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies.)
    • If you had to pay for a really expensive item—like a rocket ship that cost $1,000,000—how would you do it? (We use paper money, and you could pay for it with large bills. Using $1000 bills, you’d only need 1000 of them—that’s still a lot, but it’s lighter and more compact than 50,000 donuts. Or, you could write a check or use a money order.)

  • Explain that there are three important characteristics for a system of money. On the board, write the words portable, divisible, and time-independent. Distribute the Currency Definitions Organizer to students, and ask them to take notes and answer the questions as you define these words with them.
    • Portable - In the video, a donut-stick worth ten donuts weighs as much as ten donuts. It helps to group items but is still inconvenient. In our system of paper currency, even though a ten-dollar bill is worth ten times a one-dollar bill, both are made of a lightweight piece of paper that is foldable and can easily slip into your pocket. Paper money is not hard, doesn’t have rigid corners and is portable, meaning that it's easily carried from place to place.
    • Divisible - A donut was divided into quarters in the video, but you wouldn't want to cut a dollar bill into four pieces every time you wanted to spend 25¢. Instead, you'd use a coin, a quarter; or you could use some combination of nickels, dimes, and pennies; or you might use a dollar bill, but you'd expect to get 75¢ change. This can happen because our money is divisible; that is, it can be divided into smaller amounts.
    • Time-independent - For the citizens of Nowhere, donuts were valuable no matter how old they were. Their donuts didn't get stale - they were hard and durable. As a result, donuts could be used as currency among the people of Nowhere. On earth, though, we don’t like donuts unless they’re fresh, so they wouldn’t work for our currency. It’s important for the currency we use to be time-independent—that is, it must still have value no matter how long we hold on to it, and it won’t go bad or become useless if you keep it for a while. You can save money if there's nothing you need to buy right now. You can put the money in a piggy bank (or into a bank account, where it will accrue interest) and use it later, when you find something that you want or need.

    Activity 2:
    A Monetary System

    Materials you will need for this activity:
    • Two donuts (or paper cutouts that represent donuts, which you can obtain from the Student Organizers section)
    • Copies of the Divisibility Organizer, found in the Student Organizers section, one per student
    • Scissors, or a collection of play money: quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies

  • Hold up a nice coat (you may use a magazine photo). Say, “In the CYBERCHASE video, they used donuts as a means of currency. I’m going to sell this coat. Who will give me one donut for it?”

  • Hold up a t-shirt (you may use a magazine photo). Say, “I’m going to sell this shirt, too. Who will give me one donut for it?”

  • Use this example to have students talk about the value, or worth, of an item. Why is it silly to pay the same price for both of these items?

  • Ask, “If the coat really is worth one donut, then how could you pay a fair price for the t-shirt?” (By paying with only part of a donut.)

  • Say, “It’s sometimes necessary to pay for things that only cost a little. In the U.S. system of currency, the dollar is our basic unit, but we can buy things that cost less than a dollar. That’s why we have coins, so we can pay for things that cost from 1¢ to 99¢.”

  • Distribute the Divisibility Organizer to students.

  • Have a student read the first italicized paragraph out loud.

  • Instruct students to answer Questions 1-4. Give students 1-2 minutes to complete the first four questions.

  • Review the answers to Questions 1-4 with the class. Call on a different student to supply the answer to each question. (For older students, these questions should be fairly easy, and you can review them verbally. For younger students, you may wish to write the answers on the chalkboard or overhead projector. Label this: “Table of Equivalence”.)
    • There are 4 quarters in a dollar. Therefore, a quarter is worth 1/4, or 0.25, of a dollar, or 25¢.
    • There are 10 dimes in a dollar. Therefore, a dime is worth 1/10, or 0.10, of a dollar, or 10¢.
    • There are 20 nickels in a dollar. Therefore, a nickel is worth 1/20, or 0.05, of a dollar, or 5¢.
    • There are 100 pennies in a dollar. Therefore, a penny is worth 1/100, or 0.01, of a dollar, or 1¢.

  • Ask, “If we didn’t have these coins, what problems would there be?” After students suggest answers, you should explain that that’s the way it used to be—in ancient times, they often only had one gold coin to use as currency, which could get heavy and was not divisible.

  • Ask, “We have five different coins that are worth less than a dollar. But what if the quarter was the only unit of currency we had? Do you think there would be any problems?”

  • Allow students to share their answers, and then have them complete the remaining questions on the organizer. Allow students to cut out the coins at the bottom of the sheet to use as manipulatives when solving Questions 5-7.

    Question 5. Using only quarters, five different amounts could be made. With 0 quarters, the value is 0¢, with 1 quarter the value is 25¢, and so on, up to 4 quarters equaling $1.

    number of quarters 0     1     2     3     4    
    value 25¢ 50¢ 75¢ $1

    Question 6. In total, 15 different amounts can be made. It’s not possible to make every amount from 1¢ to 41¢, but the following amounts can be made:

    • One coin, 4 amounts: 1, 5, 10, 25
    • Two coins, 6 amounts: 6, 11, 15, 26, 30, 35
    • Three coins, 4 amounts: 16, 31, 36, 40
    • Four coins, 1 amount: 41
    Question 7. Students will likely find various combinations that could be used to make every value from 1¢ to 99¢, but the following are the three sets with the fewest coins:
    • 3 Q, 2 D, 1 N, 4 P >> 10 coins total
    • 2 Q, 4 D, 1 N, 4 P >> 11 coins total
    • 3 Q, 4 D, 4 P >> 11 coins total

    Activity 3:
    Foreign Currencies

    Materials you will need for this activity:
  • In a class discussion, have students select three items: one that costs about $1, one that costs about $5, and one that costs about $10. For instance, students might choose a pack of gum for $1, a paperback novel for $5, and a compact disk for $10. Have students reach a consensus on the items that are chosen.

  • Draw a chart like the one below on the board or overhead projector. Record the items, according to the student discussion.

    Item              Cost in U.S. dollars Cost in Japanese yen

  • Say, “You already know how money works in the United States. However, if you go to another country, you won’t be able to pay for things with American dollars, dimes, and pennies. Other countries have their own system of currency, and they’re often very different from ours. For instance, the basic unit of currency in Japan is the yen, but 1 yen is not worth the same as 1 dollar.”

  • Inform students that the following notes and coins are in circulation in Japan:

    Notes Coins
    10,000 yen 500 yen
    5,000 yen 100 yen
    2,000 yen 50 yen
    1,000 yen 10 yen
      5 yen
      1 yen

    Optional: Instead of providing this information, you could have students research the currency and denominations currently used in Japan on their own or in groups. The Web sites listed at the end of this activity offer nice descriptions of the money available.

  • Tell students that one dollar is approximately the same value as 120 Japanese yen:

    1 U.S. dollar ≈ 120 Japanese yen

    Optional: Prior to teaching this lesson, do some research to determine an estimate of the "current" exchange rate from US dollars to Japanese yen. See the end of this activity for recommended Web sites.

  • Return to the chart with the three items worth $1, $5, and $10, and work with the class to complete it. For older students, you may wish to use the currency exchange rate. For younger students, you may choose to estimate the value of the items in yen without doing exact conversions; this would be a good chance to practice “mental math.”

    For older students, you may choose to find the exact values using a calculator. To find the cost in Japanese yen, students can simply multiply by the conversion rate; for instance, converting $5 to yen can be done by multiplying 5 x 120, which gives 600 (assuming that 1 U.S. dollar = 120 yen). This is based on the following proportion, which you may choose to use if students are familiar with ratio and proportions.

    1 dollar  =  5 dollars
    120 yen      x yen

    Solving for x yields x = 5 x 120, or 600 yen.

    A completed chart may appear as follows:

    Item              Cost in U.S. dollars Cost in Japanese yen
    Pack of gum
    Paperback novel
    Compact disk

  • Tell students to imagine that they have just taken a trip to Tokyo, where they can purchase a cantaloupe in a vending machine. The cost of one cantaloupe is 10,000 yen. (Explain that a variety of items are sold in vending machines in Japan. In the U.S., vending machines are normally reserved for soda, snacks, and maybe newspapers; in Japan, you can buy magazines, fruit, flowers, ice cream, toilet paper, and even jewelry from vending machines.)

    To show students an image of a cantaloupe, use this Web site: The sign accompanying this melon indicates that the cost is 2 melons for 20,000 yen. NOTE: Additional items that are surprisingly expensive in Japan are featured at the Price Check Tokyo site:

  • Have students determine the cost of a melon in U.S. dollars. Use the table in Exercise 6 to estimate the amount.

    Optional Web sites for step 4, above: Optional Web sites for step 5, above:

    Activity 4:
    Building a Better Mousetrap

    Materials you will need for this activity:

  • Distribute the Current Currency Examples Organizer and remind students of the notes and coins that are available in both the U.S. and Japan.

    You may wish to point out that there are larger notes available in the U.S. than those included on the Organizer (such as $5,000 and $10,000), but they aren’t in common use. In addition, students may be confused by the item worth 100¢ in the coins column; explain that 100¢ = $1 and that the Susan B. Anthony dollar and Sacagawea gold coins are each worth $1.

  • Point out that the variety of notes and coins allows for all kinds of combinations, as students likely noted in Activity Two. Students should also notice that the coins and notes in the Japanese system are similar to those in the U.S. system, so similar combinations are possible.

  • Say, “We’ve explored the Japanese system of currency, and you already know the U.S. system of currency. Both systems are pretty good—you can buy a lot of things using various combinations of coins and notes. But do you think these systems could be improved? Instead of using the notes and coins that are currently available, do you think another combination of notes and coins would work better?”

  • Allow students to suggest ways in which our system of currency might be improved. If students are having difficulty with the question, offer a suggestion, such as: “Instead of using $5, $10, and $20 bills, do you think it would be better to just have $15 bills?”

  • Allow the discussion to continue for as long as students are offering valuable comments. If necessary, you might wish to offer an alternative system of currency for students to consider, or you may wish to have students create their own system of currency (see Extensions). Otherwise, conclude the discussion by having students agree that although our system of currency isn’t perfect, it does work rather well.

    Activity 5:
    General Store

    Materials you will need for this activity:
  • Say, “Now that you know about various types of currency, let’s look at how money works. What kinds of things can you spend money on?” Allow students to share their thoughts. Their ideas will most likely run the gamut, but if they start getting wild with their ideas, bring them back to some of the necessities that must be bought by asking, “What kinds of things do your parents and other adults spend their money on?” Elicit from students that adults pay for cars, houses, food, insurance, and other "grown-up" and family-shared items.

  • Ask, “Can anyone give me an example of how you can earn money?” Allow students to share their thoughts. Elicit from them that money can be earned with a salary, through investments, and with interest from a bank. In this discussion, stress that money is time-independent; that is, money can be saved and spent later. (This distinguishes it from perishable items, like food, which if used in a bartering system might spoil after a few days.) In addition, money that is saved in a bank may earn more money, known as interest.

  • Tell students that they are about to participate in a simulation that will show them a little more how money works. Explain the basic rules of the activity:
    • Each round (which represents two weeks in real time), students will earn some money.
    • Each round, they will also have to buy some necessities.
    • With the money they have left over from each round, students may choose to buy other items, or they can hold on to their money to buy bigger items when they have saved enough.

  • Tell students that in the simulation, you will serve as the General Store:
    • You will control the bank, which means that you will pay students their salary as well as give them interest on their money;
    • You will provide goods and services to students, including housing, transportation, health insurance, and so forth, in return for payment; and,
    • You will serve as the IRS—if students try to cheat regarding how much money they have, you will catch them and punish them with a fine.

  • Explain that students will earn money in this game, in the form of salary and interest.
    • Every student will start with $30 in savings.
    • Each round, students will earn a salary; at the beginning of the game, the salary is $40.
    • Each round, students will earn interest on any money they had remaining at the end of the previous round, according to the following table:
    Amount of Money in Bank Amount of Interest Earned
     $15  $5
     $27  $9
     $30  $10
     $31  $10
     $32  $10
     $33  $11
     $45  $15
     $46  $15
     $60  $20

    TIP: You may wish to present the chart above to students and let them discover the rule for earning interest. The rule is that students will earn $1 in interest for every $3 they have at the start of the round, rounded down to the nearest dollar.

  • On the chalkboard or overhead projector, show students a list of the items that they can buy, and discuss the difference between "needs" and "wants." For instance, in the “Required Items” list are things like food, housing, and some clothes, which a student needs to have. Alternatively, the “Other Stuff” list includes items like TV’s, name-brand clothing such as jeans and accessory clothing, and compact discs, which students may want but don’t really need.

    TIP: You may wish to create a list of the items and put them on poster board to hang in your classroom, which would give the feeling that you’re really running a store.

  • Explain that students must buy or pay for the items in the “Required Items” list every round. The only exception is that students do not need to buy the transportation pass if they have a skateboard, roller blades, or a mountain bike, since those items can be used for transportation. The other option is that students can choose to live in either a studio apartment ($21 per round) or a stylish penthouse ($34 per round), but they must choose one of these two housing options.

    Required Items:
    Groceries $7
    Studio Apartment OR Penthouse Suite $21 or $34
    Utilities $9
    Transportation Pass $3
    Work Clothes $7
    Cost given is per round.

  • Explain to students that items in the “Optional Items” list may be purchased each round. In addition, explain that students are not required to buy these items each round, but express that it is probably a good idea. Health insurance protects students if they get sick or have an accident. A professional upgrade represents buying new equipment, getting a college degree, taking some advanced training, and so forth, and it helps them make more money. (Note: Before the game starts, DO NOT inform students about the possibility of accidents happening to them. In addition, DO NOT tell students how much more money they will earn with professional upgrades. Students should experience the benefits and possible negatives of these purchases first-hand.)

    Optional Items:
    Health Insurance $3
    Professional Upgrade (new equipment, college degree, etc.) $3
    Cost given is per round.

  • Use pictures from magazines (pasted onto index cards) for roller blades, skateboards, video games, etc. Use props from home for other fun things—e.g., bring in a suitcase for the student who buys a trip to Japan. In addition, feel free to add to this list, if you know of items that your students will find particularly desirable, or remove items from this list if they won’t appeal to your students. (Be careful, however, to use prices that are in line with the prices given here.)

    Other Stuff:
    2-Week Trip to Japan $276
    Large Screen TV $143
    13 TV $34
    Jeans $14
    T-Shirt $8
    Sneakers $18
    Roller Blades $21
    Mountain Bike $56
    Skateboard $28
    Snowboard $29
    Compact Disc $11
    Video Game System $75
    Video Game $13

  • Distribute the General Store Organizer. The first three squares of the organizer are already completed. Explain to students what these amounts represent. The first box shows $30 in the “Amount You Have” column, since all students begin with $30. Next, the second box shows $10, indicating the interest that students earn on the first column; as mentioned above, the interest is calculated by dividing the amount in Column A by 3, and then rounding down to the nearest dollar. Finally, $40 appears in the “Salary” column, indicating the starting salary for all students. Consequently, students have a total of $80 to spend in this first round. Using play money, distribute $80 to each student.

  • Divide students into groups of four. By working in groups, students can help each other with the rules and calculations. Also, by having other students observing, it will prevent students from “cheating.” In addition, appoint one person in each group as a tax agent; this student will help you by ensuring that other students do their calculations properly. (You may choose to appoint one student in each group; you may choose one student at random; or, you may announce that the student who serves as the tax agent in each group will receive an additional $5 in their salary each round.)

  • Say, “Now we’re ready to begin. First, you have to buy the items you need from the ‘Required Items’ list.” Work with students to determine how much those items will cost. In Column D, “Items Purchased,” students should list the things in the required items list that they need to buy.

  • Say, “You’ve met your basic needs. Now it’s time to determine which of the optional things you’d like. Who would like to purchase health insurance or a professional upgrade?” If students would like to purchase these items, they should list them in Column D, “Items Purchased,” under the other items.

  • Say, “Finally, you can buy something from the ‘Other Stuff’ list if you have money left over.” Have students list additional purchases in Column D, as well. Take some time to “sell” the items to students—actually have money change hands and transactions occur. Distribute a “health insurance policy” to all students who bought health insurance, and give a “professional upgrade certificate” to students who purchased one. Make this activity fun by using pictures of items pasted onto index cards to represent the things they buy.

  • Have students determine the total cost of the items they purchase. (For the record, the cost of the required items is $47 if students opt for the studio apartment and $60 if students choose the penthouse suite. Students will save time in each round if they factor in this cost without calculating it.) Add the cost of any additional expenses to the cost of the required items. In Column E, have students indicate the total amount they spent on their purchases.

  • In Column F, students should pick a “Lucky Number” from 1 to 6. At this point, DO NOT tell them why they are picking a lucky number. Have all tax agents verify that each student in their group has chosen a lucky number.

  • Once all tax agents have reported that their groups are ready, say, “Okay, now we find out how lucky (or unlucky!) you are.” Roll a standard die, and announce the number that appears on the top face. Say, “If the number I rolled matches your lucky number, then you just ____.” Fill in the blank with some statement like “had your elbow stung by a bee,” “caught malaria,” “lost a toenail,” or some other occurrence. (Keep these light-hearted and funny; serious accidents may upset sensitive students.) Students whose “number came up” will have to pay $2 if they have health insurance or $50 if they do not have health insurance. These students should enter this amount in Column G.

  • Have students affected by the lucky number pay you whatever amount they owe. (Some students will complain that this is unfair. Explain, “That’s life.”)

  • In Column H, have students record how much money they have left. Tell the tax agents to do a quick check of each student’s paper to make sure the calculations are correct. Allow agents 1-2 minutes to make these checks. At the same time, circulate to make sure that all students have appeared to complete the first row correctly.

    The following is a sample of what a student’s first row may look like at this point:

    NOTE: Columns D and F appear different from other columns because they do not involve monetary amounts.

  • Check to see if any students have spent more money than they had. If so, declare those students “bankrupt.” (In the first round, many students may go bankrupt because of not buying health insurance and having to pay $50.) Students who go bankrupt must skip the next three rounds. At the end of those three rounds, give bankrupt students a $30 loan to help them out, but inform them that they must pay back $50 to the General Store by the end of the 10th round. Make a note of students who go bankrupt and be sure to collect from them at the end of the activity.

    After the check for bankruptcy, the first round officially ends. Move on to the second round.

  • In Column A of the second row (round 2), have students transfer the amount in Column H from the first row (round 1); that is, the “Balance” from each round becomes the “Amount You Have” for the next round. Based on that amount, have students calculate the amount of interest they should earn and enter it into Column B.

  • In Column C, have students enter their salary. Students who have no professional upgrade certificates receive a salary of $40. Students who have professional upgrade certificates receive $40 plus $5 for each certificate. (At this point, it will be impossible for students to have more than one certificate, but as the rounds continue, they may purchase more. Students are limited to purchasing only one professional upgrade certificate each round, but they never expire. In addition, while students are allowed to purchase one professional upgrade each round, they are not required to purchase one each round.)

  • Have students enter the items they wish to purchase in Column D, and then complete the remaining columns as before. Continue this simulation for rounds 3-10 as well, stopping to check for bankruptcy at the end of each round.

    (As the game progresses through several rounds, you may opt to not take the time to actually sell items to students or have money change hands. It will be enough to simply record the amount of money they have. To generate excitement, though, be sure to carry out the transactions for the first several rounds.)

  • Conduct a discussion in which students talk about this activity. Be sure to touch upon the following points in the discussion:
    • Why were things like food and housing in the “Required Items” column? (Because these are things you need.)
    • Was it a good idea to buy health insurance or professional upgrades? (Yes, because health insurance can protect you if something bad happens, and professional upgrades help you earn more money.)
    • Was there any benefit to saving money? (Yes. The money earned interest, just a little at first, but eventually a lot. The more money saved, the more interest earned.)
    • Was there any benefit in waiting to buy items you wanted? (Yes. If you spend your money too early, you’ll go bankrupt.)
    (Note: This activity was designed so that students will not be able to afford the “Required Items” in one round if they don’t have a balance of at least $6 left from the previous round. Of course, that’s only to cover the basics; they will need to save more if they want to buy health insurance or a professional upgrade.)

    Before concluding, ask students if there are any other important things they want to share about the activity.

    Extension: Using the same scheme for earning interest, tell students that $10 is put in the bank. If that money earns interest but none of it is spent, how much will they have after 2 rounds? …after 4 rounds? …after 10 rounds? This idea will get students to think about compound interest.

    Activity 6:
    Lesson Summary – KWL Completion

    Materials you will need for this activity:

    • The KWL chart that was begun in the Introductory Activity
    • TV and VCR
    • CYBERCHASE videocassette, “Trading Places”

  • Add a piece of paper to complete the chart that was constructed during the opening activity. The L in KWL stands for Learned, so the third part of the chart is where students should list the things that they learned during this unit.

  • Say, “During the last few days, you’ve learned a lot about money and how it works. Who can tell me something that you learned about money?”

  • Call on students to tell you the things they learned related to bartering, currency, savings, and so forth, throughout this series of lessons. Record their thoughts in the L column of the chart.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:
    Select and implement one of the following culminating activities.

  • Students could respond to the following prompt in their math journals: Explain why you think our system of currency is the best, or describe another system that you think would be better.

  • Ask students to explain why our system of currency that uses notes and coins is better than the CYBERCHASE squad’s use of donuts.

  • Using a fictitious example, tell students that the State of Confusion, a far-away island country, uses rocks as its means of currency. They use three sizes of rocks: a small rock (weighs about 4 ounces) can be used to buy little things like an apple or a roll of tape; a medium rock (weighs about 8 ounces) can buy bigger things like a pizza or a six-pack of soda; and a large rock (weighs 16 ounces) can be used to buy even bigger items like jeans, baseball caps, or a pair of shoes. And, of course, you can use several rocks at once to purchase very large items like bikes and skateboards. Though the system works fairly well, have students describe how it could be improved.

  • Have students write a short story about shopping in a foreign country. In this country, there is no system of currency, and students are required to develop the system on their own. The story should involve how they conceived the system of currency for this country, the conversion to U.S. dollars, one item that they purchased, and, given its U.S. value, how they determined its cost in the foreign country.

  • Have students write a one-paragraph report outlining what they learned about money during these activities.


    • Play the CYBERCHASE, "Trading Places" episode until the end of the "For Real" segment. As a calculator activity, students could determine the weight of Sacagawea gold coins that would be required to purchase an expensive item. A Sacagawea gold coin weighs 8.1 grams, so enough coins to buy a $500 mountain bike would weigh 8.1 _ 500 = 4050 grams, which is just over 4 kilograms, or almost 9 pounds. If you carried $20 bills instead, you’d only need 25 to pay for a $500 bike, and they’d weigh a fraction as much.
    • Using the General Store activity, develop students’ understanding of savings and compound interest by investigating the following Web sites. Give students 15 minutes of class time to explore the sites, and then 10 minutes to write a paragraph explaining one thing they learned on each site.

      Maryland Public TV - Sense and Dollars

      Practical Money Skills for Students
    • Have each student select one question from the "W" chart that was not answered during the lessons on bartering and currency. The student is then responsible for researching that topic and finding the answer. You may want to give students one day to present their solutions to the class.
    • To reinforce the idea of portability, have each student determine how much the coins would weigh if students attempted to pay for a $500 mountain bike (or some other expensive item) using only quarters. Note that 2000 quarters would be needed, and, according to the U.S. Mint, a newly minted quarter weighs 5.670 grams; it can be estimated that a "worn" quarter would weigh about 5 grams, so 2000 quarters would weigh about 2000 x 5 = 10,000 grams, or about 10 kilograms, which is roughly 22 pounds. (Alternatively, there are roughly 80 quarters in a pound, so 2000 quarters would weigh about 2000 / 80 = 25 pounds.) Extend this activity further by considering the weight if other coins were used; the result could be compared to the weight if paper currency were used. Specifications for all U.S. coins are available at the U.S. Mint Web site,

    • Continue students' exploration of currency in Activity Four by asking them to create their own currency system. Start by distributing the My Own Currency Organizer and give them time to complete the activity.

      • The currency system described uses “doubles” for its coins and notes: 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc. A system like this, based on powers of 2, has the benefit of usually requiring fewer coins than our system to make an amount of change. For instance, it would take 8 coins (3 quarters, 1 dime, and 4 pennies) to make 89¢ in the U.S. system, but only four coins would be needed in the system of doubles: 64 + 16 + 8 + 1 = 89. Of course, there are times when a system of doubles will require more coins, but even in the most extreme cases, it never requires more than two more coins than our system.
      • The downside to the system of doubles is that combining coins involves more math than we might want to do in our decimal-based world. Our coins and bills have the advantage of ending in 5's and 0's (except for the penny), which make them easier to add.
      • The students’ systems of currency will vary. Their answers should include a name and symbol for their currency, as well as valid reasons for their choices of coins and notes that account for portability and divisibility.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students