When I talk about functional academic skills, money is always one of the first things that comes to my mind. It is a huge skill, and it encompasses so many parts of our life. It also entails so many smaller skills, yet can also encompass so many bigger, more nuanced skills (hello, investing or paying off a loan). Yes, of course you want to be teaching counting money and making change, but there are other basic skills we want to be working on to make money functional. These are three skills I love to teach my life skills students when teaching money math skills.
The dollar up (or dollar more) method can be really handy. The reality is that, when we pay with money, we are not going to be counting out money to the exact cent amount. Most likely, like we do, they will be trying to pay quickly as other are waiting to pay for their items. Knowing how to round to the next dollar amount can help us immensely to pay a cashier promptly. The reality with some of our students is that counting mixed coins can be really challenging and fluency may be difficult to master. Using dollar more helps us to pay quickly.
Comparing Money Amounts
Comparing quantities is a basic math skill. If your students have mastered comparing 3 or 4 digit numbers, it might be time to teach them how to compare money amounts. Identifying if an item costs more or less compared to another item can help with higher critical thinking skills. It is a precursor to knowing how to budget, how to get the best deal, and understanding if an item is worth purchasing.
Identifying if you have enough money
This is one of those things that can really get an individual in to a sticky situation if they don’t have the right skill! The reality is that you need to have enough money when paying for an item, or you simply can’t buy it! This again falls in to the area of critical thinking skills and budgeting. If your life skills students have mastered comparing money, this is also a crucial skill to teach.
Functional Money Math Resources
If you feel like your life skills students are ready to learn these foundational skills, I have had a lot of success with my functional money math bundle. Each set comes with interactive books, task cards, and worksheets to practice these skills. The bundles also come in individual sets. Each set works on a different skill, including dollar up, which costs more?, which costs less?, and identifying if you have enough money. Get it here!
Free Resources to Teach Functional Money Skills
I also have these free functional money math posters in The Resource Vault to support learning these skills! Sign up below and be added to the Life is a Classroom mailing list. You’ll receive access to these anchor charts and more functional academic resources like these anchor charts.