K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will estimate the cost of 3 books from the book order catalog, compute the total cost and calculate the change from $5.00.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hour


  • Book order catalogs from companies such as Scholastic, Trumpet, or Troll
  • Calculator
  • A teacher-made blank check for the children to fill out as a method of payment
  • A teach
    er-made order form for children to fill out


Teacher will allow the children to browse through the book order catalogs to pique their interest.


  1. Teacher will ask the students to estimate the cost of 3 books from the book order catalog. Have students record their estimate where they can refer to it later.
  2. Children will select 3 books of their choice from the catalog and compute the cost of the books. They may use a calculator. (The teacher may put a limit on the amount they can spend, such as $5.00.) Refer back to their estimate. How close were they?
  3. Children will fill out the order form for their choices.
  4. Children will calculate the complete cost of their choices. (Teachers may decide to add shipping and handling or sales tax.)
  5. Teacher will instruct children how to write a check, modeling on an overhead or blackboard.
  6. Children will write out their checks and attach them to their order form.


Teacher can easily assess student’s work by examining the the order form. Costs should be calculated correctly. If the order form is correctly filled out, the teacher can move on to the check. Teacher should look over the check to see it is filled out correctly. Children quickly figure out what to fix and can correct their own mistakes if they have made any.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 2

        • Measurement & Data
          • 2.MD.8 Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately. Example: If you have 2 dimes and 3 pennies, how many cents do you have?
      • Grade 3

        • Operations & Algebraic Thinking
          • 3.OAT.8Solve two-step word problems using the four operations. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding.3

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will model, identify, and compute with whole numbers through 9,999.
    • Objective 1.02: Develop fluency with multi-digit addition and subtraction through 9,999 using:
      • Strategies for adding and subtracting numbers.
      • Estimation of sums and differences in appropriate situations.
      • Relationships between operations.
    • Objective 1.06: Develop flexibility in solving problems by selecting strategies and using mental computation, estimation, calculators or computers, and paper and pencil.