Lesson Overview

Estimated Time: 120 min
If I had $100...: Students will learn the difference between wants and needs and the importance of setting priorities in terms of how money is spent. In groups, students will be given $100 to “spend” and will have to account for exactly how it is spent. Students will reflect on their choices and deal with unexpected life circumstances that will be thrown their way, which will affect their budgeting decisions.

Connections to Financial Literacy

This lesson addresses concepts of saving and spending, as well as critical thinking and making decisions about how to spend money when given a set of specific life circumstances.


Number Sense and Numeration
Quantity Relationships

  • read and represent money amounts to $100
  • solve problems that arise from real life situations and that relate to the magnitude of whole numbers up to 10 000

Operational Sense

  • add and subtract money amounts by making simulated purchases and providing change for amounts up to $100 using a variety of tools

Curriculum Expectations


B.1 Creating and Presenting

  • B1.2: demonstrate an understanding of the element of role by selectively using a few other elements of drama (e.g. time, place, relationship, focus and emphasis) to build belief in role and establish dramatic context
  • B1.3: plan and shape the direction of the drama or role play by posing questions and working with others to find solutions, both in and out of role

Reflecting, Responding and Analyzing
B3. Connections Beyond the Classroom

  • B3.2: identify skills they have acquired through drama activities and explain how they can contribute to success beyond the classroom

Learning Goals

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to

  • understand the difference between wants and needs
  • better understand the value of $100 by exploring how much can be purchased with it
  • perform repeated subtraction using decimals from a starting point of $100
  • determine priorities for spending and observe the consequences of poor spending habits
  • make connections between lifestyle choices and their impact on financial stability

Instructional Components and Context


Practice adding and subtracting with decimals so that students are comfortable with how to represent dollar amounts and have a solid understanding of place value. Engage students in a pre-lesson discussion about spending and saving to determine their current level of understanding of what the two terms mean. Elicit examples from them of what they spend their money on and what kinds of strategies people can use to save money.





Role play
Stranger in role
Teacher in role
Hot Seating


A copy of The Ants and the Grasshopper fable
4 sets of $100 (2X20, 4X10, 2X5, 10X1) in the form of Monopoly money or homemade bills
Chart paper and markers
4 envelopes
Video camera (optional)
Video editing software (optional)
BLM #1 Family Profile Cards
BLM #2 Surprise Scenarios for Families
BLM #3 Discussion Template for Hot Seating


Lesson Plan

Minds On

Whole Class > Read Aloud > Role Play Retell

Read the story The Ants and the Grasshopper to the class. Together, determine the main ideas of the story (e.g. that you need to plan ahead for the future, that you can’t always rely on others to bail you out when you are in need, that teamwork makes a heavy load lighter).

Divide students into groups of 4 and have them role play one key moment from the story as one of the group members narrates. Sample Key Moments: grasshopper dancing and playing while ants work in summer, season changes and ants eating while grasshopper hungry and alone, grasshopper learns lesson.

Ask the groups to share their role play moments, then pose the following question: What can this story tell us about spending and saving money?

Record student responses on chart paper and post as an anchor chart throughout the lesson.


Connections: Explain to students that the next part of the lesson will require them to take what they have learned from The Ants and the Grasshopper story and apply it to a real life scenario.

Differentiation: Provide opportunities for students to express their understanding of the story in a series of tableaux rather than through role play.

Assessment for learning:
Drama: Use the suggested checklists to assess role play or tableau skills and provide descriptive feedback. For a Role Play Checklist for this lesson see the CODE resource unit Grade 5 Building a Community and for a Tableau Checklist see the CODE resource unit Exploring Rituals.
Financial Literacy: Assess the quality of discussion around big ideas from the story to determine if further instruction around the concept of saving is required. During the suggested pre-lesson in readiness, use the ideas or definition generated as a means to assess the concept of saving.



Small Group > Role Play

Tell students that they are going to take part in a challenge where they will be divided into imaginary family groups that will each receive $100. They must use what they have to spend on transportation and entertainment expenses over the course of a week. Inform them that each family will have a different ‘attitude’ toward spending or different ‘life circumstances’ that will be described on an information card. Encourage students to use these cards to help make their money spending decisions.

Divide students into 4 groups and provide each group with one of the BLM #1 Family Profile Cards as well as the $100. Invite students to prepare 3 short scenes to show how their families paid for their transportation and entertainment expenses that week, ensuring their decisions match the description of their families.

After students have rehearsed their scenes, invite groups to share one scene at a time. (i.e., Family #1 scene one, Family #2 scene one, Family #3 scene one, etc.)

Inform students that, at the end of each scene, one of the group members will walk over to a piece of chart paper that has been designated for their family with $100.00 written at the top of it and subtract the amount of money that was spent in the scene. They will record a description of  what was purchased in the space to the right of the calculation so that the expense record can be analyzed later on.

For example:
-  35.00  Family Pass for TTC

Once all families have shared their first scene, invite them to present their second scene in the same manner.

Small Group > Role Play > Adapting to New Life Circumstances

After the second scene has been shared by all of the groups, address the class as a stranger in role as a mail carrier.

Make an announcement that you have a special delivery for the 4 special families and hand out one of BLM #2 Surprise Scenarios for Families to each of the groups in sealed envelopes.

Come out of role and tell students that they need to go back and rework their third scene based on the new information that they have just received in their envelopes.

When students have finished reworking their scenes, share the third scenes and have students update their budget information on their chart paper as before.


Connections: Compare the rationale used for saving and spending to comments made during the Ants and the Grasshopper story discussion to their family scenarios. Prompt: Has there been a shift in thinking? Are answers more specific and focused?

Differentiation: Students who like working with numbers could pretend to invest some of the money and calculate interest earned at a given rate over a period of time, or they could calculate interest charged on expenses put on a credit card.

Assessment for learning: Use the Role Play Checklist in the CODE resource unit Grade 5 Building a Community to assess students’ role play skills.


Small Group > Meeting with Financial Advisers

Assuming the mantle of teacher in role as bank manager, invite each of the families (one at a time) to come and meet with you to discuss their spending and saving habits.

Inform them that you have been reviewing their spending over the last week (post their spending chart nearby) and that you and some of your colleagues (gesture towards the rest of the students in the class) would like to ask them some questions and offer them some advice. Use the following guiding questions for hot seating of the families.

Key Questions for Hot Seating:

To the parents:

Do you think that you did a good job of managing your money this week?
What helps you to make decisions about how to spend your money?
What would you say are some challenges that you face when trying to manage your money?

To the children:

Do you ever worry about money?
What could you do to help your parents to save money?

(Optional) Record responses to questions using BLM #3 Discussion Template for Hot Seating. Consider having all students keep their own copies, copy one master template onto chart paper, or project the template onto a SMART board.

After posing some questions yourself, invite audience members in role as colleagues to ask questions. Have one or two members of the audience offer one piece of advice for the family moving forward.

Individual > Journal Reflection

Ask students to respond to any or all of the following prompts in their journals:
Is $100 a lot of money for a family? Explain your thinking.
How might what we consider important in life affect the way that we spend our money?
What do you think is important to spend money on?
Has participating in this activity changed the way that you think about money and spending? How?

Collect reflections and assess according to the curriculum expectations and learning goals.

Extension Ideas:
  • Students could extend their learning by finding out what an average welfare cheque amounts to and create a budget for a family living on this amount given current costs of shelter, food, clothing and transportation.
  • Students could explore how far $100 can stretch in different parts of the world as a means of demonstrating the relative value of different currencies.
  • Students could do an audit of the cost of their ‘wants’ as a means of creating greater empathy about the stress that their parents are under to try to give them what they want as well as what they need.  
  • Students could prepare Public Service Announcements (PSA) for kids about how to be smart with their money.
  • Students could look at the expense records they prepared and try to do the calculations in fewer steps; they could also compare rates of spending to see which family made their money last the longest.


Connections: Response questions provide students with an opportunity to explicitly articulate their understanding of the concepts of spending and saving, the value of money and what it takes to make sound financial decisions as well as the impact of financial decisions of daily life.

Differentiation: Students can either film their PSAs using video cameras and edit them on programs like iMovie or write their PSAs for broadcast on the radio by recording the audio with tools like Garage Band.

Assessment of learning: Evaluate the journal reflection as well as the chart paper used to demonstrate the calculations made throughout the scene based on the curriculum expectations and learning goals articulated at the beginning of the lesson.