Changing Hands


Students will research and present information about the purpose and structure of the Federal Reserve System and its relationship with the United States Department of the Treasury.


Students will research and present information about the purpose and structure of the Federal Reserve System and its relationship with the United States Department of the Treasury.

Subject Area

  • Coins & Mint


  • 7th
  • 8th

Class Time

  • Total Time: 151-500 Minutes minutes


Lesson Steps

Sessions 1 and 2

  1. Display an image of one of the American Women Quarters Program coins from the U.S. Mint Image Library. Describe the program, referring to the U.S. Mint website program page if necessary.
  2. Conduct a discussion about these new coins and the economy. During this discussion, ask the students to guess how many quarters are minted, how putting these coins into circulation affects the economy, and who determines how much money should be in circulation at any one time.
  3. Explain to the students that they will be conducting a Web investigation in the computer lab to find the answers to these and many other questions about our country's financial system.
  4. As a class, visit the computer lab.
  5. Distribute an "America's Money" Web questionnaire to each student. Either individually, in pairs, or as a class, read the questionnaire.
  6. Explain that the students will research appropriate responses using the resources available online from the Department of the Treasury, the United States Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Federal Reserve.

Session 3

  1. Once the students have completed their "America's Money" Web questionnaires, direct them to independently write an expository paragraph to explain the relationship between the United States Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Federal Reserve System ("the Fed").
  2. When the students have completed their paragraphs, place the students into groups of three or four. Distribute a piece of chart paper and a marker to each group.
  3. Allow the students to spend 15 to 20 minutes in their groups comparing their questionnaire responses and paragraphs. The students should discuss what they've learned about the Federal Reserve System and record this information on their chart paper. The students should also note any questions that they still have about the Fed.
  4. The students should post their charts near their seats.
  5. With the whole class, discuss and clarify the questions that students have identified as sources of confusion. The students should take notes on this discussion.

Sessions 4 and 5

  1. Direct the students to reassemble into their groups from the previous day. Distribute a "Group Presentation Rubric" to each group.
  2. Explain that each group will need to develop a creative way to present their understanding of the relationship between the United States Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Federal Reserve System. Possible format ideas for these presentations could include a PowerPoint presentation, a children's book, a skit, and a rap or other type of song. Their presentations will be graded based on the rubric.
  3. Have each group take a turn presenting its material to the class.
  4. Complete a "Group Presentation Rubric" for each group.


Use the worksheets, rubric, 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: Social Studies Domain: All Disciplinary Standards Cluster: Economics Grade(s): Grades K–12 Standards: Teachers should:
  • Productive resources are limited. Therefore, people cannot have all the goods and services that they want; as a result, they must choose some things and give up others.
  • Effective decision making requires comparing the additional costs of alternatives with the additional benefits. Most choices involve doing a little more or a little less of something; few choices are all or nothing decisions.
  • Different methods can be used to allocate goods and services. People, acting individually or collectively through government, must choose which methods to use to allocate different kinds of goods and services.
  • People respond predictably to positive and negative incentives.
  • Voluntary exchange occurs only when all parties expect to gain. This is true for trade among individuals or organizations within a nation, or among individuals or organizations in different nations.
  • When individuals, regions, and nations specialize in what they can produce at the lowest cost and then trade with others, both production and consumption increase.
  • Markets exist when buyers and sellers interact. This interaction determines market prices and thereby allocates scarce goods and services.
  • Prices send signals and provide incentives to buyers and sellers. When supply and demand change, market prices adjust, affecting incentives.
  • Competition among sellers lowers costs and prices, encouraging producers to produce more of what consumers are willing and able to buy. Competition among buyers increases prices and allocates goods and services to those people who are willing and able to pay the most for them.
  • Institutions evolve in market economies to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. Banks, labor unions, corporations, legal systems, and non-profit organizations are examples of important institutions.
  • Money makes it easier to trade, borrow, save, invest, and compare the value of goods and services.
  • Interest rates, adjusted for inflation, rise and fall to balance the amount saved with the amount borrowed, thus affecting the allocation of scarce resources between present and future users.
  • Income for most people is determined by the market value of the productive resources they sell. What workers earn depends, primarily, on the market value of what they produce and how productive they are.
  •  Entrepreneurs are people who take the risks of organizing productive resources to make goods and services.
  • Profit is an important incentive that leads entrepreneurs to accept the risks of business failure
  •  Investment in factories, machinery, new technology, and in the health, education, and training of people can raise future standards of living.
  • There is an economic role for government to play in a market economy whenever the benefits of a government policy outweigh its costs. Governments often provide for national defense, address environmental concerns, define and protect property rights, and attempt to make markets more competitive. Most government policies also redistribute income.
  • Costs of government policies sometimes exceed benefits. This may occur because of incentives facing voters, government officials, and government employees; because of actions by special interest groups that can impose costs on the general public; or because social goals other than economic efficiency are being pursued.
  • Cost and benefit analysis is complex and involves placing value on both tangible
  • and intangible factors when making policy decisions
  • A nation’s overall levels of income, employment, and prices are determined by the interaction of spending and production decisions made by all households, firms, government agencies, and others in the economy.
  • Unemployment imposes significant personal costs on individuals and families.  It can also place a heavy burden on governments. Unexpected inflation imposes costs on many people and benefits some others because it arbitrarily redistributes purchasing power.
  • In the United States, federal government budgetary policy and the Federal Reserve System’s monetary policy influence the overall levels of employment, output, and prices.
  • The assumptions and values on which economic theory and public policy are based require careful analysis