Quarters from the Coast


Students will compare and contrast the location of land and water on a map of theUnited States while also becoming aware of the physical shape of the nation and home state.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


  • Students will compare and contrast the location of land and water on a map of the United States.
  • Students will also become aware of the physical shape of the nation and home state.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts


  • K
  • 1st

Class Time

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


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • Bodies of water
  • Concept of borders
  • Map skills
  • Directions
  • Difference between land and water

Terms and Concepts

  • Map
  • Map key
  • Coast
  • United States


  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Maine quarter reverse
  • 1 class map of the United States of America
  • Chart paper
  • Copies of the "Coast to Coast" map
  • Crayons and/or colored pencils
  • Sentence strips
  • Pictures or images of the coast, beach, etc.


  • Make an overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Maine quarter reverse.
  • Make copies of the "Coast to Coast" map (1 per student).


Worksheets and files (PDF)

Lesson Steps

Session 1

  1. Describe the 50 State Quarters Program for background information, if necessary, using the example of your own state, if available. Then display the transparency or photocopy of the Maine quarter reverse. Locate Maine on a classroom map. Note its position in relation to your school's location.
  2. Ask students to point out particular features that they notice on the quarter reverse.
  3. Tell them that one of the things pictured represents something very special about Maine: the lighthouse. Maine has more coastal lighthouses than any other state.
  4. Write the word "coastal" on a piece of chart paper. Ask the students to look at the quarter design again and try to describe what "coastal" means. Write all student comments on the chart paper.
  5. Drawing from personal experiences, ask students if they've ever visited a coastal region (such as visiting the beach or seeing the ocean). Ask students to discuss the characteristics of this setting, using descriptive words.
  6. Support the class' comments with pictures or illustrations of the seashore. At the same time, record their suggestions on sentence strips and display these with the pictures in the room.
  7. Write the word "inland" on a second sheet of chart paper and work with students to break this word into two easily readable words, "in" and "land".
  8. Ask students to look at this word and try to figure out its meaning. Write all student comments on the chart paper. Students should generally point out that an inland area is somewhere that does not touch an ocean.
  9. Ask students if they've ever visited an area that is inland. Have students compare this area with the characteristics of a coastal region.

Session 2

  1. Tell the students that they are going to explore coastal areas in the United States.
  2. Pass out the "Coast to Coast" map and crayons or colored pencils to each student.
  3. Modeling on a class map, ask a student to point to the United States.
  4. Explain that we live in the United States and that our country has boundaries. Indicate the boundary of the United States for the class. Ask them to use a black crayon or colored pencil to outline the United States on their map. Help students as needed.
  5. On the class map, ask another student to indicate the bodies of water that are near the United States.
  6. Have students use a blue crayon or colored pencil to color in the major bodies of water box in the map key. Using the same crayon or colored pencil, ask them to color the water on their map.
  7. Show them the state of Maine on the class map. Tell them that it is shaded on their own maps.
  8. Ask them to use a green crayon or colored pencil to shade in Maine (doing the same for the Maine map key).
  9. Review with students that coastal means "next to the sea or ocean". Maine is a coastal state because its border touches the blue.
  10. On the class map, find where the school is located. Help students to find it on their own maps.
  11. Ask students, "Do we live in a coastal state like Maine? Does our state border the water on the map?"
  12. When the appropriate response is given, ask students to color it in green (if it is coastal) or red (if it is inland). Direct students to appropriately color the corresponding map key for their state.
  13. Ask students to place a green X in all other states that are coastal.
  14. Have students write the number of coastal states pictured on the map (explaining Alaska's and Hawaii's special positioning) in the blank provided on the map.

Differentiated Learning Options

Use this opportunity to introduce students to additional compound words, particularly words that apply to this activity, such as "inland," "lighthouse," and "offshore."


  • Have students use the directions labeled on the compass rose to determine whether more states are coastal on the eastern or western part of the United States. Also have students determine which direction they would need to travel from their home in order to visit the lighthouses of Maine.
  • Have students examine and compare other available quarters from this program to note how coastal states are represented.
  • Incorporate an appropriate literature selection about lighthouses into this activity, such as:
    • Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie by Peter and Connie Roop
    • Beacons of Light: Lighthouses by Gail Gibbons
    • Littlest Lighthouse by Ruth Sexton Sargent
    • Birdie's Lighthouse by Deborah Hopkinson-Smith
    • The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Hoyt Swift
    • The Light House Keeper's Daughter by Arielle North Olson


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

Common Core Standards

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

National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.