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What’s In The Bag?

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Students will research a historical figure from the United States and introduce their classmates to items associated with this person. Students will also predict how that historical figure would fit into today’s society.

Coin Type(s)

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

Coin Program(s)

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


  • Students will research a historical figure from the United States and introduce their classmates to items associated with this person.
  • Students will also predict how that historical figure would fit into today’s society.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies


  • Third grade
  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade
  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

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


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • American history
  • Artifacts
  • Historical figures


  1. Brainstorm with your students ways people remember important historical figures in our society. Some people are remembered by having their image placed on a coin or a medal.
  2. Ask your students what historical figures they have seen on American coins. Besides the current circulating coins, there are figures represented on commemorative coins and on medals. Take your students to the Medal Mania and Coin of the Month sections on the United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket Change™ Web site to view some of them.
  3. With guidance, allow the students the opportunity to research more online about a historical figure depicted on a U.S. circulating coin, historic coin, or medal.  Students should choose someone they find interesting and want to learn more about.
  4. Give each student a paper bag to make a “personality bag” for their historical person. Have them draw on the outside of the bag a picture of the coin or medal. Each bag should contain 5 drawings or pictures of items from this person’s era that would somehow represent them. Students can also include two things from modern times that their person might have if they were alive today. For instance, if the student chose Meriwether Lewis, they might add a GPS (Global Positioning System) or cell phone.
  5. Have the students share these personality bags with the rest of the class.
There are no modification options for this lesson plan.

Evaluate the presentation of the bags for completeness (5 historic items and 2 modern) and clear explanations of why they included each item in the bag.

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: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth’s physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Culture and Cultural Diversity
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand and apply the concept of culture as an integrated whole that governs the functions and interactions of language, literature, arts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behavior patterns
  • enable learners to analyze and explain how groups, societies, and cultures address human needs and concerns
  • guide learners as they predict how experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference
  • encourage learners to compare and analyze societal patterns for transmitting and preserving culture while adapting to environmental and social change
  • enable learners to assess the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups
  • have learners interpret patterns of behavior as reflecting values and attitudes which contribute to or pose obstacles to cross-cultural understanding
  • guide learners in constructing reasoned judgments about specific cultural responses to persistent human issues
  • have learners explain and apply ideas, theories, and modes of inquiry drawn from anthropology and sociology in the examination of persistent issues and social problems