Serving Our Nation


Students will read about and research the lives of specific war veterans who have been honored on coins or medals to compare their common characteristics and differences.

Coin Type(s)

  • Cent
  • Nickel
  • Dime
  • Quarter
  • Half Dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Commemorative Coins


Students will do research and use charts and posters to explain common characteristics and differences of war veterans.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts


  • 3rd
  • 4th
  • 5th
  • 6th
  • 7th
  • 8th

Class Time

  • Sessions: One
  • Session Length: 90 minutes
  • Total Length: 46-90 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • American history
  • Coins
  • Commemorative coins
  • History
  • Medals
  • Veterans
  • War


  • The United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket Change website (
  • The United States Mint website (
  • Appropriate websites for researching coin histories or biographical information about military veterans
  • Computer lab access/library access
  • Copies of a group chart (columns should be where students write their information, the rows should be as follows: name of the war, name of the coin/medal selected, name of the veteran(s)commemorated, the branch of the military in which that individual(s) served, and the event or behavior that made that individual memorable)
  • Pencils
  • Poster board (1 sheet per group)
  • Markers


  • Bookmark research sites in advance if desired.
  • Make copies of group chart (1 per group).
  • Create a rubric if desired.

Lesson Steps

  1. Select one or two coins or medals and display enlarged versions for your students to see. They should represent those who fought in two different wars.
  2. Ask the students why they believe that these coins or medals were created and who they were meant to honor. Answers should relate to the idea that they were created to honor people who served in the military.
  3. As a class, discuss and define the word "veteran." Ask students to explain why the United States Mint would decide to produce coins that honor veterns rather than a different segment of the population.
  4. Divide the students into five groups and assign to each group one of the wars that the United States participated in. As a member of the group, each student will use either the United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket Change website or another source to find a coin or medal that was created to honor the service of someone (or several people) who participated in that group's assigned war.
  5. Have the students independently research why the selected coin was created and who it honors. Have them also research some biographical information about the person or people honored, especially which branch of the military was involved and what event or behavior made the honoree(s) particularly memorable.
  6. Ater the students complete this independent research, form new groups of 5 composed of one member from each of the original groups.
  7. In these new groups, the students will create a chart listing the name of each war, the name of the coin or medal selected by that war's group, the name of the veteran(s) commemorated, the branch of the military involved, and the event or behavior that made the honoree(s)memorable.
  8. Have these groups discuss some common characteristics of military veterans that transcend the particular war in which they fought.
  9. Have each of these groups develop a poster based on their discussion. This poster should describe what it means to be a military veteran and should include illustrations as well as written words.
  10. Have each group select a resentative to present the poster to the class and explain why the images and words were selected.
  11. Create a bulletin board entitled "Those Who Served to Keep Us Free" and display each group's poster on it.



Select a different theme and invite students to explore other commemorative coins and medals that the United States Mint produces that explore this theme (such as scientists, women in history, artists, African American history).


  • Evaluate the group charts, posters, and students' participation to assess how well the students have met the lesson objectives.
  • Use a rubric if desired.

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.