Sounding Out the Symbols


Students will, while learning about symbols, sort words orally, understand that letters represent sounds, and note words that start with the same letter.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


Students will, while learning about symbols, sort words orally, understand that letters represent sounds, and note words that start with the same letter.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts

Minor/supporting 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

Background Knowledge

Students should have basic knowledge of letter shapes and sounds.

Terms and Concepts

  • State flowers
  • Letters
  • Sounds


  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • Overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Mississippi quarter reverse
  • "What's the Sound?" worksheet
  • "A Quarter for Our School" worksheet
  • Colored pencils and/or crayons
  • Chart paper
  • Pictures of a magnolia blossom and your state flower


  • Make copies of the "What's the Sound?" worksheet (1 per student).
  • Make copies of the "A Quarter for Our School" worksheet (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 Mississippi quarter reverse.
  2. Explain to students that the design was specially chosen to represent the state of Mississippi because the Magnolia was selected as the state flower and the state tree. Use supporting pictures of a magnolia blossom to illustrate. Make connections to your state flower.
  3. Hand out the "What's the Sound?" worksheet.
  4. Point out that Magnolia starts with the same sound and letter as the state it represents—Mississippi.
  5. Ask students what is pictured in the second circle next to the Magnolia flower. Does 'man' use the same sound, too? What other words begin with the "M" sound?
  6. Tell students they will have a chance to think of more things that begin with different sounds. Review the sounds that the rest of the states listed on the worksheet start with and, as a class, brainstorm things that start with those same sounds and list on chart paper.
  7. Have students trace the initial letters on their worksheets. Students will draw two words that begin with the corresponding sound in the circles next to the state name. Model this activity for them. Monitor their work until all circles are complete.

Session 2

  1. Ask the class if they think that Mississippians chose the Magnolia as a symbol just because it started with the same letter and sound as the state name. Explain how prominent the magnolia is in the South, that it is both the state flower and the state tree of Mississippi, and that the magnolia can be found all over the state.
  2. Tell students that they will decide what should symbolize their school. Ask what is found all around the school. When students offer up 'inside' answers such as teachers, desks, etc., ask where magnolias are usually found—inside or outside. When they say outside, suggest that you take a class field trip around the school grounds.
  3. While outside, ask the students to find and draw something that might be good to represent or symbolize your school. Students could also brainstorm ideas about things that represent your school such as its mascot or school colors.
  4. Distribute the "A Quarter for Our School" worksheet. Ask the students to use this paper to draw their selected items.
  5. Share the drawings with the entire class by displaying them in the room.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Students could bring in objects beginning with a certain sound. Objects could be sorted physically to reinforce understanding.
  • Have advanced students draw pictures of words that end with the sounds listed.
  • Introduce students to alliteration by having them create a sentence using one of the initial letters reviewed in this activity.


  • Go to the United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket ChangeTM Web site at, and print the 2002 quarter outlines. Make enough copies and randomly distribute to the class. For fun, have them color their coins however they would like and display them according to state groupings. Students could also sort these coins according to their attributes.
  • Students can create "A Quarter for My Family," displaying special pictures relating to their families (family members, heritage, special activities, pets).


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

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Grade(s): Grades K–4

  • Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines
  • Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum