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Coins in U.S. History

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Students will investigate, appreciate, and deepen their knowledge of U.S. coins and the history associated with these coins. They will also learn about events in U.S. history.

Coin Type(s)

  • Cent
  • Nickel
  • Dime
  • Quarter
  • Half dollar
  • Dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Lincoln Bicentennial Cents
  • Westward Journey Nickel Series
  • America The Beautiful Quarters
  • DC and Territory Quarters
  • 50 State Quarters
  • Presidential $1 Coin
  • Native American $1 Coin
  • Commemoratives
  • Generic


  • Students will investigate, appreciate, and deepen their knowledge of U.S. coins and the history associated with these coins.
  • Students will learn about events in U.S. history.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Technology


  • Third grade
  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade

Class Time

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


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Bicentennial
  • Coins
  • Economics
  • Franklin
  • History
  • Independence
  • Kennedy
  • Money


  • U.S. Mint's H.I.P. Pocket Change Web site at, Coin of the Month section
  • A Guide Book of United States Coins by Yeoman, R.S.


The U.S. Mint’s H.I.P. Pocket Change Web site has a section called “Coins of the Month.” Each month, a selected coin is presented along with elements of its history or meaning. For this lesson, you can focus on just a few of the coins that relate to what the students are studying in class or you can use all of the coins in the section. Print off the page for each of the coins you are going to use.

  1. Assign each student his or her own coin. Give them each the print-out of the Coin of the Month page for their coin so they can become an expert on that coin.
  2. Direct the students to take notes and summarize the main points about the coin. They should include the physical characteristics and the history of the coin.
  3. Have each student write his or her findings in a report and also include a sketch of the coin.
  4. Have each student create a timeline with his or her report.
  5. As a class, develop a larger timeline based on each student’s independent work. The class can determine what years need to be included in the timeline. The timeline can be based on when the coins were minted or it can be based on the time period represented on the coin.
  6. Have each student read his or her report to the class and then place the report and sketch at the appropriate place on the class timeline.

Differentiated Learning Options

Have students present their timeline to other classes.


Have each student create a list of 5 descriptive clues about their coin. Once each student has read their report to the class, play a game of “Name That Coin” to see what your students have retained.

Evaluate the written report and class presentation for whether the student has met the lesson objectives.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

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

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Individual Development and Identity
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • assist learners in articulating personal connections to time, place, and social/cultural systems
  •  help learners to appreciate and describe the influence of cultures, past and  present, upon the daily lives of individuals
  • assist learners to describe how family, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, and other group and cultural influences contribute to the development of a sense of self
  • have learners apply concepts, inquiry, methods, and theories in the study of human growth and development, learning, motivation, behavior, perception, and personality
  • guide learners as they analyze the interactions among ethical, ethnic, national, and cultural factors in specific situations
  • help learners to analyze the role of perceptions, attitudes, values, and beliefs in the development of personal identity and their effect upon human behavior
  • have learners compare and evaluate the impact of stereotyping, conformity, acts of altruism, discrimination, and other behaviors on individuals and groups
  • help learners understand how individual perceptions develop, vary, and can lead to conflict
  • assist learners as they work independently and cooperatively within groups and institutions to accomplish goals
  • enable learners to examine factors that contribute to and damage one’s mental health; and analyze issues related to mental health and behavioral disorders in contemporary society