Subject: Borrowing

Name: A College Student
Who is asking: Other
Level: Elementary

How would you explain borrowing to an elementary school student?


I would try with money. Suppose that you had five dimes and three pennies and you wanted to buy something that cost twenty-seven cents. How much change would you get?

First change one of the dimes into ten pennies. Then you have four dimes and thirteen pennies. You can now take two dimes and seven pennies to buy what you want, leaving two dimes and six pennies. Thus 53 - 27 = 26.

The act of changing one of the dimes into ten pennies is exactly borrowing. You are borrowing one from the tens column (dimes column) and replacing it by ten in the units column (pennies column). When the students have mastered this move to dollars, dimes and pennies, that is three digit numbers.

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