Light the Way!


Students will learn about the lighthouse at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Students will create a three-dimensional model of a lighthouse.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters


Students will learn about the design, function, and purpose of a lighthouse.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Art


  • K
  • 1st

Class Time

  • Sessions: Two
  • Session Length: 20-30 minutes
  • Total Length: 46-90 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Quarter
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)
  • Lighthouse
  • Great Lakes


  • 1 overhead transparency (or equivalent) of the following:
  • Copies of the following:
    • "Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Quarter" page
    • "Light the Way!" worksheet
  • Supplemental age-appropriate texts that give information about lighthouses and/or Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
  • Age-appropriate, relevant web sites for background information, including:
  • Class map of the United States
  • Lighthouse building materials, such as:
    • Paper or plastic cups
    • Plastic water bottles
    • Cardboard
    • Construction paper
    • Scissors
    • Glue (hot glue or school glue)
    • Markers, crayons, colored pencils, or paint
    • Any other decorating materials, such as popsicle sticks, buttons, sequins, shells, etc.



Lesson Steps

Session 1

  1. Describe the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program for background information. Explain to students that the back of a coin is called the "reverse," and "obverse" is another name for the front.
  2. With the students, examine the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Quarter reverse. Locate the site on a class map and note its position in relation to your school's location. Ask the students to tell you what they see in the image on the quarter's reverse. Explain that the coin depicts the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin. Point out the lighthouse in the background of the coin. Ask students if anyone has been to a lighthouse and invite them to share their experiences.
  3. Tell the class they will be learning about lighthouses. Introduce the supplementary text/materials and read/watch them together. Answer any questions along the way.
  4. Distribute the "Light the Way!" worksheet (one per student). Explain to the class that they will be cutting out the pieces of the lighthouse and putting them together, then coloring and decorating their design. Have students complete their worksheets.
  5. Collect the worksheets.

Session 2

  1. Display the lighthouse model-making materials. Tell students they will be constructing a three-dimensional model of a lighthouse from these materials.
  2. Have students construct their three-dimensional models using the materials provided.
  3. Display the models in the classroom.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow work in pairs or small groups.
  • Allow students to complete the worksheet on a computer or tablet.
  • Have an adult assist with the lighthouse model-making.


  • Have students create a model of a specific Great Lakes lighthouse.
  • Have students present their lighthouse to the class.


  • Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions.
  • Use the students' worksheets and models to evaluate whether they've met the lesson objectives.

Common Core Standards

Discipline: English Language Arts
Domain: Reading: Informational Text
Cluster: Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
Grade(s): Grade K

  • Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

Discipline: English Language Arts
Domain: Speaking and Listening
Cluster: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Grade(s): Grade 1

  • Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

National Standards

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Grade(s): Grades K–12 

  • Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes
  • Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses
  • Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories
  • Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner