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National and Regional Identity

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Students will understand how, both now and in the past, currency has been used to develop both regional and national identities.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


Students will understand how, both now and in the past, currency has been used to develop both regional and national identities.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies


  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Three
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 121-150 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • The United States Mint 50 State Quarters® Program
  • Obverse (front)
  • Reverse (back)
  • National identity
  • Regional identity
  • Articles of Confederation
  • Constitution
  • Euro
  • Internet search


  • Bags or envelopes containing 5 coins from the 50 State Quarters Program or images of 5 different quarters from the “Quarter Designs” page on page 71 (1 bag or envelope per group)
  • 1 copy of the “50 State Quarters® Program Overview” on page 57 (optional)
  • Copies of the “Quarter Observation” page (1 per student)
  • Chalkboard
  • Chalk
  • 1 overhead transparency of Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution
  • 1 overhead projector
  • Copies of the “Quarter Designs” sheet on page 71 (1 per student)
  • Unlined paper
  • A reserved computer lab with Internet access or copies of information from the United States Mint Web site (
  • Copies of the “Up Close and Personal” worksheet (1 per student)
  • A handout containing images of colonial money (1 per student). Such images can be found at Web sites such as:
  • Poster board (3 sheets per group)
  • Markers
  • Copies of the “Colonial Quarters” page (1 per group)
  • Copies of the “Colonial Currency” page (1 per student)
  • Atlases or a classroom map
  • Copies of the “Changing Their Change” page on the H.I.P. Pocket Change™ Web site at (1 per student)
  • Images of euro coins and banknotes, such as those available at:
  • Copies of the “Take a Closer Look” page (1 per student)
  • Copies of the “Internet Search” directions (1 per group)


  • Bookmark chosen Web sites.
  • Copy necessary materials.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at

Session 1

  1. Divide students into small groups of four. Distribute to each group a small bag or envelope with at least five different new quarters (real quarters or images of the reverse designs).
  2. Describe the 50 State Quarters Program, referring to the “50 State Quarters® Program Overview” page if necessary.
  3. Distribute one “Quarter Observations” page per student and explain to students that they will be examining each of the new quarters in their envelope. Explain to students that once they have closely inspected each quarter, they should be able to find patterns. Direct students to record these patterns on the “Quarter Observations” page.
  4. Direct students to then share their observations with another group and make conclusions about United States currency based on their observations. Encourage students to draw general conclusions about what American values are highlighted on the new quarters. If necessary, add the idea that each state is diverse and different, yet we all share one identity.
  5. Reconvene as a class and review with students the definition for national identity and regional (state) identity. Explain if necessary, that a national identity is shared among members of a nation, but a regional identity may be larger or smaller than a national identity.
  6. Create a T-chart on the chalkboard with one column labeled “Regional Identity” and the other “National Identity”. Have students generate examples for each column. Encourage students to think of groups inside and outside of the United States. Appropriate regional responses might include: southern, Virginian, Sicilian, Asian, European. Appropriate national responses might include: British, American, Japanese.
  7. Have students identify their own national and regional identities. Responses may include: American, Californian, westerner, North American.
  8. Ask students to discuss how the 50 State Quarters Program represents both the national and state identities of our nation. If necessary, include the idea that the obverses of the quarters portray largely national symbols while the reverses honor the culture and history of one particular region (state).
  9. Explain to students that even though both identities are portrayed on the new quarters, the federal government largely controls the minting process of these quarters. Refer students to the overhead transparency of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to mint money. Explain that this phrase gives the United States federal government the power to create coins and bills or currency.
  10. Direct students to discuss the following question with a partner and reach a consensus.  “Why do you think the Constitution gives the national government power over American currency, instead of allocating that responsibility to each individual state government?” Have students write down their responses in their notes. Invite each pair to share their answer with the class.
  11. Explain to students that now they understand why the federal government has power over American currency, it’s time to examine how it exercises that power. Introduce the idea that the process the federal government uses to design and mint the new quarters is an example of how the United States is based on ideas of both national and regional (or state) identity. Both the national (federal) government and the state governments are involved in this process.
  12. Visit the computer lab with your students.
  13. Distribute one “Quarter Designs” page to each student. Introduce the next activity byexplaining that the students will be creating a flow chart based on the process the national government uses to design and mint the coins in the 50 State Quarters Program. Encourage the students to visit the United States Mint Web site, which will guide their research.
  14. Distribute one sheet of unlined paper to each student. Have each student create a flow chart showing the process that the national government uses to design and mint the new quarters.
  15. As students complete their work, distribute the “Up Close and Personal” page to each student to complete for homework. Direct students to choose one of the new quarters they examined during class or assign the quarter of the state students live in to complete the worksheet.

Session 2

  1. Direct students into groups of three or four and distribute one poster board and markers to each group.
  2. Have students share their flow charts from the previous day and create a group flow chart to draw on the poster board.
  3. Direct each group to choose a spokesperson to explain their flowchart to the class. Allow each spokesperson to present his/her group’s chart. Discuss and resolve discrepancies between the charts.
  4. Ask students to determine if the state governments currently exercise more or less power in the new quarter design and selection process than the federal government. Guide students to observe that the flow charts demonstrate the national government currently having more control over American currency than the state governments. Introduce the idea that the national government hasn’t always been the one with the most power over our national currency.
  5. Briefly review with the students the history of the American Revolution and the Articles of Confederation. Remind the students about the political change that occurred, moving America from being a colony of Britain to being an independent nation. Be sure to also emphasize the distrust felt by many Americans towards centralized power such as a monarchy or other national government. Use the following questions to help prompt student recall if necessary.
    • What nation originally controlled the American colonies? (Great Britain)
    • Why did the colonists decide to declare independence and revolt against Great Britain? (In order to be free of the monarch and his heavy taxes and to set up self-rule)
    • What were the Articles of Confederation? (This document, ratified by Congress in 1781, was technically the first “constitution.” The 13 participating states agreed to a confederacy, where each state would govern itself except for specific rights given over to the Congress.)
    • Who had the most power under the Articles, the states or the national government? Why? (Clearly, the states had the most power under the Articles, because the newly-formed states were afraid of recreating a monarchial setting in the new land.)
  6. Explain to students that immediately following the Declaration of Independence, each of  the new “states” created and printed their own currency as a sign of their independence from Great Britain.
  7. Distribute one handout with images of colonial money to each group. Direct students in their groups to closely examine the currencies. Distribute one “Colonial Currency” page to each student and direct students to record their observations on this handout.
  8. Brainstorm with students the possible reasons why states chose the symbols they did for their currency.
  9. Distribute one “Colonial Quarters” page to each group. Using this handout, their “Up Close and Personal” homework assignment from Session 1, and their colonial money handouts, have the groups address the following three questions (written on the board). Direct the groups to elect a reporter to record the group’s responses.
    • How are the state currencies similar to and different from the new quarters? (Answers will vary.)
    • Do the state currencies reflect a greater emphasis on state or national identity? Why? (The emphasis is on the state because national identity was still forming, loyalty was still local, and state governments had more power than the federal government.)
    • What difficulties do you think might arise from having different state currencies? (Spending power might be different, states could begin to divide socio-economically, travel could become difficult if states did not accept and recognize each other’s currencies, etc.)
  10. Share group responses as a class.
  11. Review with students the decision by the United States in 1783 to abandon the Articles of Confederation and adopt instead the Constitution. Be sure students understand the change from a state-centered government to a nationally-centered government. Have students address why the states decided to call a new Convention after the Revolutionary War and write a new constitution. Guide students to respond the states felt that the Articles of Confederation were more confusing than helpful. It was very difficult to make decisions because consensus between the states was hard to achieve and there was no executive power. Encourage students to predict what happened to state currencies once the national government gained more power under the Constitution.
  12. Introduce the next activity by explaining to students that they will be conducting a think-pair-share activity. In pairs, students will discuss the following questions and be prepared to share. Then, the student pairs will discuss their responses with another pair of students. Review as a class a few group answers to check for student comprehension.
    • Why might a state not want to drop their own currency and use a national currency? (loss of state identity, less power to the states, poor economies of other states could make the money worth less)
    • What arguments might supporters use for having a national currency? (improve trade by having same currency, states with poor economies would be helped by states with strong economies, help create a national identity and unify the nation)
  13. Use student responses to create a class list of responses on the board to the two questions above.
  14. Distribute two poster boards to each group and direct groups to create one poster in support of continuing a state currency and one in support of using a national currency. Explain that the posters must include a symbol or image representing their point of view and a slogan or phrase that expresses the reason for their point of view.
  15. Post student posters around the room and have students conduct a “Gallery Walk” to examine each of the posters. Keep the posters on display throughout the remainder of the unit.

Session 3

  1. Direct students to use the atlas or classroom map to locate Europe. Ask students if they can identify any of the countries in Europe. Make a class list on the board.
  2. Ask the students what the difference is between Europe with its many countries and the United States with its many states. Guide students to respond that Europe is a group of nations, each with its own government. But the United States, though it consists of many states, is one nation with one central government.
  3. Ask students to brainstorm all that they know about the currency of the nations of Europe.  Review a few responses and record them on the board. Explain, if necessary, to the students that many of the nations in Europe recently adopted a new currency called the “euro” in much the same way the U.S. adopted a common currency under the Constitution.  The euro replaced individual national currencies.
  4. Ask students if the euro is an example of a regional identity or a state identity. Have students justify their responses. Explain if necessary that, in the previous lesson, the term “regional identity” was used to refer to state identities that were part of a larger national identity. The regional identity that the euro represents, however, is a European identity that is larger than the national identities. In this case, regional identity is broader than national identity.
  5. Distribute to each student one copy of the “Changing Their Change” page found on the H.I.P. Pocket Change Web site. Direct the students work in pairs or small groups to read and take notes on the adoption of the euro by most nations in the European Union.
  6. In order to check student comprehension of the background of the euro, ask the following questions: What is the euro? Why did many nations in Europe decide to adopt the euro?
  7. Divide students into groups and distribute images of both euro coins and banknotes from different nations. Distribute one “Take a Closer Look” page to each student. Direct the groups to examine the currency closely and record their answers on this page.
  8. Direct each group to select a spokesperson to present answers to the questions as a check for understanding.
  9. Introduce the next activity by explaining to students that in groups, they will complete an Internet search assignment to familiarize them with more of the euro coins and the symbols and images they portray. Divide the students into research groups and distribute one “Internet Search” directions page to each group.
  10. Visit the computer lab with your class and allow an appropriate amount of time for groups to complete the Internet search assignment.
  11. Have groups prepare presentations to the class on one of the coins they researched. As much as possible, have each group present a different coin so there are no repeat presentations.  Explain that presentations should include an image of the coin examined and an explanation of the reason the nation chose that image.
  12. As a final assessment to this unit, distribute in sets to the students (or display images) of the following:
    • a new quarter
    • a state bill following the Declaration of Independence
    • a euro coin.
  13. Direct students to examine each of the items and then, using details from each of the examples to support their conclusions, answer the following question in writing: What doescurrency reveal about the identities (both national and regional) of a nation?


  • Create several fictional characters using various national and regional identities. For example, “I am North American and Canadian from the West Coast province of British Columbia”. Using magazines, have students create a collage that describes their simulated national and regional identities. When the collages are complete, see if the other students in the class can guess the regional and national identity descriptors of each character.
  • Create a mock debate, with half of the class representing the colonial state governments and the other half representing the colonial federal government. Center the debate on the following question: Should the United States move from state currencies to one national currency? Allow students time to prepare and research their group’s historical position.
  • Have students research the debates over adopting the euro in Great Britain. Have students conduct a mock Parliamentary debate about whether or not Britain should adopt the euro.

Use the worksheets and class participation to assess whether the students have met the lesson objectives.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

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

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.