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Unit Plan

Ancient and Modern Coins

Description of Unit:

How often do children let their imaginations wander to adventures and far away times?  These moments in a child’s life and more can occur through the study of Greek and Roman mythology and history.  These ancient times can really come to life when you can hold in your hand or read about common artifacts from this time like coins.  Students are very familiar with money (coins) and this commonality can help them understand how their lives are similar to or different from times in ancient Greece or Rome.  Many symbols on the ancient coins can be found on U.S. coins.  Students can study the history and myths of these periods, and when they relate them to modern people and places, their lessons become even more real.  This unit incorporates all curricular subject areas.  It uses coins to help students explore ancient times and to relate their research to their own lives.


  • Ancient Coins
  • Coin History
  • Coins
  • Greece
  • Greek Coins
  • History
  • Informational Texts
  • Mythology
  • Roman Coins
  • Rome
  • Story Problems
  • Symbols
  • U.S. Coins
  • Writing
  • Writing Across the Curriculum

Grade Level(s):

3-5, 6-8

Main Subject Area:

Social Studies

Additional Subjects:

Language Arts

Essential Question or Problem:

What are the similarities and differences between my life and life during ancient Rome or Greece? Can I find this out by looking at coins from ancient Greece and Rome?

Unit Introduction:

To start this unit it would be best to pass around some replicas (fakes) of ancient coins. If this is not possible, you can print out copies from the Internet or books listed in the references for each lesson. Tell the students that 1,600 to 1,800 years ago, Roman citizens were carrying these around in their pouches to spend. Have the student think about what they might have bought with these coins and how many had been made (200 million to 500 million per year estimated at peak Constantinian times). If you have actual coins then students can speculate how the coins could have lasted so long and what might have happened to them in all these years.

Individual Lessons:

  1. Symbols on Coins: U.S. Coins Evolved from Ancient Times
  2. All “Coins” Lead To Rome: Roman symbols that can be found on U.S. coins
  3. Ancient Myths Retold
  4. Ancient Story Problems

Culminating Activity:

Students have just finished learning about ancient times through coins. A great culminating activity would be for each student to create a coin, which would represent them and their life, for someone in the future to discover. Students could brainstorm how they could make these coins so they could be preserved for someone in the future to examine and learn about them. Students might make a time capsule with their coins or put pictures of them on a web page.