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Charting History with Pennies

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Summary

Students collect pennies and sort them in ascending order of dates. For the year on each penny, students research key events in history and pick a single event, explaining its historical significance. Then students use these events to create a timeline of U.S. history.

Coin Type(s)

  • Cent

Coin Program(s)

  • Generic

Objectives

On their own, students will research random years in U.S. history and identify key historical events.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts

Grades

  • Third grade
  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade

Class Time

Sessions: One
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 0-45 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Materials

  • Pennies (20 per student)
  • Paper
  • Pens/pencils to create "date sheets."
  1. Ask students to collect 20 pennies - each with a different mint date - and bring them to the classroom.
  2. Have students create a "date sheet" for each penny. (You may want to have students tape or otherwise attach each penny to its sheet of paper.) Then have students sort the date sheets in chronological order.
  3. Have students research events in U.S. history for each year on their date sheets.
  4. On each date sheet, have students note a key event, explaining its historical significance.
  5. Collect all date sheets from students. Post the sheets in chronological order around the classroom, creating a timeline of U.S. history.

Differentiated Learning Options

Use the class timeline to create a Web page or site that electronically charts the same information.

Technology Extensions

If your class has access to software programs such as PowerPoint and AppleWorks, you could have students use the programs to create more polished date sheets.

  • Use the students' projects to determine whether the students:
    • Were able to correctly date sheets in chronological order. 
    • Effectively used reference materials to find and research key events. 
    • Accurately explained the events selected and gave supporting facts.
  • Evaluate students' spelling, grammar, and other writing conventions for accuracy.

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.