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The Identity of Coins

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Students will observe and make rubbings of circulating U.S. coins.

Coin Type(s)

  • Cent
  • Nickel
  • Dime
  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • Generic


Students will use basic scientific skills of observation and description to report on specific characteristics of several coins.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Science

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Art


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

Class Time

Sessions: One
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 0-45 minutes


  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Characteristics
  • Coins
  • Dime
  • Nickel
  • Penny
  • Quarter


  • 1 set of coins per pair of students consisting of 1 circulating U.S. penny, nickel, dime and quarter per set (4 coins)
  • Magnifying glasses or stereomicroscopes
  • Lab notebooks
  • Pencils
  1. Divide the class into pairs of students. Give each pair one set of four coins, one of each of the lowest denominations. Have them record various visible characteristics for each coin in their lab notebooks.
  2. Once the students have made their initial observations, have them use hand-held magnifying glasses or stereomicroscopes to make more detailed observations.
  3. Have the students make graphite copies (pencil coin rubbings) of the coins by placing thin white paper over the coin and lightly rubbing the side of the pencil point across the covered coin. The details of the coin will be shown through the graphite on the white paper.
  4. Have the student pairs share with the other pairs the coin specifics they have determined.

Differentiated Learning Options

Give students data about “unknown” coins. Using knowledge the students gained previously, have them identify what type of coin the information describes.

Evaluate the lab notebooks to see 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.

Discipline: Science
Domain: 5-8 Content Standards
Cluster: Physical Science
Grade(s): Grades 5–8

  • Properties and changes of properties in matter
  • Motions and forces
  • Transfer of energy

Discipline: Science
Domain: 5-8 Content Standards
Cluster: Science as Inquiry
Grade(s): Grades 5–8

  • Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understand scientific inquiry