skip navigation
Left Navigation Links


The Growth of a Nation

Printable view


Students will identify and explain the variables that shaped the identity of states in the union prior to 1812. They will also explain how the individual identity of the states contributed to the success the young nation.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


  • Students will identify and explain the variables that shaped the identity of states in the union prior to 1812.
  • They will also explain how the individual identity of the states contributed to the success the young nation.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies


  • Ninth grade
  • Tenth grade
  • Eleventh grade
  • Twelfth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Four
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 151-500 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • The United States Mint 50 State Quarters® Program
  • State identity
  • National identity
  • Economic, political, and cultural variables


  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Missouri quarter reverse
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the “Quarter Designs” page on page 59
  • Copies of the following:
    • “50 State Quarters® Program Overview” sheet on page 45
    • “State Search” assignment (1 per student)
    • “Quarter Designs” sheet on page 59 (1 per student)
    • “Coin Outline” sheet (1 per student)
    • “Presentation Rubric” (1 per group)
    • “Quarter Concepts” note-taking guide (several per student)
    • “Quarter Information” sheets on pages 46 to 57 (1 packet per group)
  • Chalkboard
  • Chalk
  • A reserved computer lab with Internet access
  • Large sheets of white bulletin board paper (1 per group)
  • Markers (1 set per group)


Make copies of necessary materials.

Worksheets and Files

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

Session 1

  1. Show the students a Missouri quarter reverse and display an overhead transparency or photocopy of the same quarter’s reverse for all the students to see. Ask the students if they have ever seen this coin, and what they know about it. Who produces this coin?What does it commemorate? If necessary, reference the “50 State Quarters® Program Overview” page to describe the 10 year coinage program.
  2. Examine the coin design and ask students to identify the items depicted. How are these images important to the state’s identity? List and display student responses on the board.
  3. As a class, categorize the student responses into three identity variable categories; Political, Economic, and Cultural. Using the Missouri quarter, students may identify the image of the Corps of Discovery as a political variable, the Mississippi River as an economic variable, and the Gateway Arch as a cultural variable. Allow the students to discuss varying opinions.
  4. Continue the class discussion with a focus on the ways in which political, economic, and cultural variables work together to shape the identity of a state.
  5. Explain that the students will be completing a group project where they will explore the political, economic and cultural variables that contributed to the identity of each state which existed prior to 1812.
  6. Place students into groups of three.
  7. Assign each group the responsibility for researching a state that entered the union prior to 1812. These states include Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio. 
    Note: Although each state will not be represented, be sure to assign those states whose political, economic and cultural variables most strongly affected the identity of our nation during this time period.
  8. In their groups, direct each student to decide on one of the following research topics: the economics, the politics, or the culture of their assigned state, prior to 1812. Explain that all three topics will be needed for a future assignment.
  9. Distribute a “State Search” assignment to each student and explain that they will be conducting their research as a class during the next session.

Session 2

  1. Visit the computer lab as a class.
  2. Review the class assignment and instruct students to independently conduct research on their assigned state with a focus on their selected topic (i.e. the economic conditions of Rhode Island prior to 1812).
  3. To each student, distribute a copy of the “Quarter Designs” page and direct their attention to their assigned state’s quarter design.
  4. Distribute a “Coin Outline” page to each student. Explain that each student will create a new quarter design based on their own research (i.e. a drawing related to a tobacco farm for Maryland). Students must be prepared to share their drawing and information with their group on the following day.

Sessions 3 and 4

  1. Assemble students into their groups from session 1 and direct them to share their drawings and research.
  2. Distribute a large sheet of white paper, markers, and a “Presentation Rubric” to each group.
  3. Allow students twenty minutes to integrate each group member’s individual information into a new coin reverse depicting an appropriate representation of the state’s identity based on its political, economic, and cultural variables prior to 1812. They will also discuss how these variables affected the growth/success of the nation as a whole.
  4. Distribute a “Quarter Concepts” note-taking guide to each student and a “Quarter Information” packet to each group. Explain that, as each group presents its coin, the remainder of the students will listen to the presentations and take notes on their guides. These notes will help the students complete a later essay assignment.
  5. Each group will present its coin to the class, explaining the factual reasons for the design and the effect of these variables on the growth/success of the nation.
  6. Following each individual group’s presentation, display the overhead transparency of the state’s quarter design.
  7. Ask the class to consider the quarter design and why that design may have been selected.  Then, using the information from the related page in the “Quarter Information” packet, have the students read the factual information behind this quarter’s design. Solicit student opinions on whether or not the quarter design is similar to the group’s representation of the state’s identity.
  8. Assign students an essay in which they use examples from class to respond to the following questions: How did political, economic, and cultural variables provide each state with an individual identity that in turn contributed to the overall success of the young nation?  Looking at the actual quarter design for this state, have these variables stayed the same or changed? How do you know?
  9. Allow students any remaining class time to meet with a member from a different group to discuss the effects that his or her assigned state had on the growth and success of the nation.


  • Analyze variables that caused or could cause friction within the Union.
  • Introduce/review the principle of federalism and how the identities of the states relate to this principle.
  • Research and evaluate the actual process used to create the quarters that are a part of the
  • United States Mint 50 State Quarters Program and its connection to federalism.

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.