The Many Faces of Coins
Main Subject Area: Social Studies
Additional Subjects: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science
Duration of Lesson: Other minutes
Additional Subject Area Standard(s):
Students will read about the woman and child who appear on the Golden Dollar and discuss her role in U.S. history.
- 1 candy or cough drop tin
- 1 cent (penny), 1 nickel, 1 dime, 1 half dollar, 1 Golden Dollar (real or play) for each tin
For each student pair:
- Venn diagram worksheet
For whole class instruction:
- 1 cent (penny), 1 nickel, 1 dime, 1 half dollar, 1 Golden Dollar (real)
- Overhead or enlarged versions of each side of each coin
- 1 age-appropriate children’s text relating to Sacagawea’s involvement with the Corps of Discovery, such as Sacagawea: 1788-1812 by Rosemary Wallner, Truth about Sacagawea by Kenne Thomasma, Sacagawea: The Story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Joseph Bruchac, or other suitable texts.
Coins Used in Lesson:
Grade Level(s): 3-5
2. Ask your students what they see. Continue the discussion by asking students to list some ways we use money, and specifically coins, in everyday life.
3. Distribute a small container (candy or cough drop tins work well) that holds one of each coin denomination.
4. Instruct the students to first remove a cent from their container, while simultaneously displaying an enlarged or overhead version of the coin for all students to see.
5. Review the name of the coin and its value as it is displayed. Also review the designs on each side of the coin, paying particular attention to the individual whose image is on the coin.
6. As the students speak, keep track of the information they express about the coin design on a piece of chart paper.
7. In order of increasing value, remove each coin from the container and review the same information about each coin. Discuss why the individuals on each coin are important to our country, and add this information to the chart started earlier (an amended version of the HPC Math lesson, “An Introduction to Coins,” could serve as a predecessor to this activity). After you’ve reviewed one coin, ask students to name the coin with the next largest denomination.
NOTE: When you reach the quarter, discuss the idea that there are different types of quarters that can be found in our pockets. See if students can name the different types of quarters that they might find. Aside from the regular quarter with the eagle reverse, students could also name the 1975-76 quarters with Bicentennial reverses, or the coins minted as part of the 50 State Quarters® Program.
8. Prior to discussing the Golden Dollar, review the common characteristics of the coins listed earlier. Some commonalities will include each coin only depicts one person, that person is always a man, that person is always a president.
9. Instruct the students to first remove the Golden Dollar from their container, while simultaneously displaying an enlarged or overhead version of the coin for all students to see. Ask if the students know who the people are on this coin.
10. Instruct the students to leave their coins on their desks and move to the classroom reading area.
11. Select an age appropriate children’s text which describes Sacagawea’s participation in the Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery (some possible texts are included in the Materials section). Read this text to the class, explaining the historical setting and that the book has something to do with the coin they were just looking at.
12. As a class, review who the people on the coin are. Discuss their involvement with the development of the United States.
13. Invite students to return to their seats and resume their exploration of the Golden Dollar. Students should discuss their observations of this coin while these comments are added to the chart as well.
14. Break the students into pairs and distribute a Venn diagram worksheet to each pair. Explain that Venn diagrams are used to compare and contrast information between two topics, and demonstrate how this is done with this particular graphic organizer.
15. Above one of the diagram’s ovals, students should write the words “Golden Dollar.” Within their pair, the students should select a different coin to compare to the Golden Dollar.
16. Allow students to work in their pairs to complete their Venn diagram.
17. Invite student pairs who have compared different coins to the Golden Dollar to present their work to the class.
Assessment / Evaluation:
Differentiated Learning Options:
Students could also do independent research on Sacagawea using available classroom resources.