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Lessons That Make Cents

February 2017

A Thousand Years of History

Effigy Mounds National Monument was established in 1949. The park protects one of the largest remaining concentrations of ancient American Indian earthworks in the United States. It is considered a sacred landscape by members of many modern-day tribes whose ancestors once lived here.

This month, the U.S. Mint releases its first 2017 America the Beautiful® Quarter, featuring Effigy Mounds. Use these free lesson plans to teach your students about these man-made wonders and the native plant and animal communities that have sustained people in this area for millennia.


Coin of the Month

Effigy Mounds National Monument Quarter

The park is home to more than 200 mounds in a wide variety of forms, including more than 30 animal or bird-shaped "effigy" mounds for which the park is named. Often more than 100 feet long individually, many of these animal and bird shaped mounds are perched high atop rugged bluffs overlooking the adjacent Mississippi River.

Interesting facts about Effigy Mounds:

  • The majority of the mounds were constructed 1,000-2,000 years ago
  • The mounds were sometimes used for ceremonial purposes or to tell important stories, but most were used for burial
  • Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon used both clay and a computer to sculpt the image of the mounds featured on the coin's reverse

Effigy Mounds National Monument Quarter


The Quarter

The coin design depicts an aerial view of mounds in the Marching Bear Group. Inscriptions are “EFFIGY MOUNDS,” “IOWA,” “2017,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”




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Three Sisters Sprouts (Grades 2-3)

Students will observe parts of a plant and seeds and how seeds grow into plants. Students will explore what seeds need to sprout and what plants need to grow. Students will examine and identify the differences between the Three Sisters seeds (corn, squash, and beans).

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Symbols of Peace (Grades 4-6)

Students will learn about the Iroquois Confederacy, the Great Law of Peace, symbolism, and the symbolism in burying weapons beneath the Great Tree of Peace.

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Code Talkers Recognition Act (Grades 6-8)

Students will research and draw conclusions about specific time periods. Students will understand and sequence events and demonstrate an understanding of the importance of Code Talkers in American history.


Featured Lesson Plans

Learn about the Effigy Moundbuilders, the Mississippi Valley, archeological work at the mounds, and more at the National Park Service Effigy Mounds website.

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Shapes and Symbols (Grades K-1)

Students will identify the 2017 Effigy Mounds National Monument quarter, correctly name its geometric shape, identify symbols within the design and recall experiences to create a new coin.

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Explanatory Texts (Grades 2-3)

Students will write an explanatory text based on facts about Effigy Mounds.


Upcoming Event

Effigy Mounds National Monument Sign

Effigy Mounds National Monument Quarter Launch

February 7, 2017

Commemorating the release of the 2017 Effigy Mounds National Monument Quarter. View the events page for more information.



More Lessons

Visit our lessons-by-coin-program page to learn more about United States history.

Changes Coming Soon

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