Making My Coin


Students will pick a person or place they would like to see featured on a United States coin and create a coin design representing their chosen subject.


Starting with a pre-selected subject of the educator's choice, students will pick a person or place they would like to see on a coin and create a coin design representing their chosen subject.

Key Questions

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to answer the following questions:
  1. What kinds of images go on coins?
  2. Why do artists choose these images?

Subject Area

  • Coins & Mint
  • History & Government


  • K
  • 1st
  • 2nd
  • 3rd
  • 4th
  • 5th
  • 6th
  • 7th
  • 8th
  • 9th
  • 10th
  • 11th
  • 12th

Class Time

  • Total Time: 46-90 Minutes minutes


Lesson Steps

  1. Display a U.S. coin of your choice. Ask the class to identify the pictures on the coin's front (obverse) and back (reverse). Lead the class in a discussion about the pictures on the coin, and correctly identify them for the class if necessary.
  2. Introduce the class to the subject depicted on the coin. Provide a brief overview, based on information from the The U.S. Mint Coin Classroom website and other resources (such as for National Parks/Historic Sites).
  3. Explain that the pictures on coins often honor an outstanding person, place, or event in history. Ask the class what they think the pictures on this coin symbolize. Lead the class in a discussion and explain what the pictures symbolize, using the information from the U.S. Mint Coin Classroom website.
  4. Explain that the Mint chooses each coin design carefully, and these coins are designed by artists and sculpted by Mint artists. Play a couple of the videos of Mint artists from the "materials" section.
  5. Tell the class they will be creating their own coin design. Students can choose to make an American Women Quarter, a commemorative coin, Native American $1 Coin, or another type of coin listed on the website. Students can create a coin design based on the pre-selected subject (a National Park, notable historical figure), or they can design a coin based on the subject of their choice. Other suggested subjects: local landmarks (manmade or natural), athletes, historical figures, endangered animals.
  6. Distribute the "Making My Coin: Coin Design Sketchbook". Explain that students should research their chosen subject, jot down notes for coin design ideas, and make three sketches of the coin design before creating the final design.
  7. Have each student research their subject and fill out their sketchbook either in additional class sessions or as homework.
  8. Display and distribute the "Making My Coin Rubric." Remind students of the requirements listed on the rubric (including the mounting requirement and artist's statement for older grades).
  9. Have students present their coin designs to the class by showcasing the final product. If including artist's statement, have students read their statements aloud. Allow for class time to complete mounting/display, if including mounting requirements.
  10. Create a bulletin board or gallery wall and display the coin designs on it.


  • Take notes on student participation in class discussions and use rubric for evaluation.

Common Core Standards

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

National Standards

NA-VA.5-8.6: Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines Achievement Standard:
  • Students compare the characteristics of works in two or more art forms that share similar subject matter, historical periods, or cultural context
  • Students describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts

Discipline: Language Arts Domain: English Cluster: Developing Research Skills Grade(s): K–12 Standards:
  • K-12.8 Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music Domain: 9–12 Visual Arts Cluster: Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas Grade(s): Grades 9–12 Standards: Proficient:
  • Students reflect on how artworks differ visually, spatially, temporally, and functionally, and describe how these are related to history and culture
  • Students apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in their artworks and use the skills gained to solve problems in daily life
  • Students describe the origins of specific images and ideas and explain why they are of value in their artwork and in the work of others
  • Students evaluate and defend the validity of sources for content and the manner in which subject matter, symbols, and images are used in the students' works and in significant works by others

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music Domain: 9–12 Visual Arts Cluster: Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes Grade(s): Grades 9–12 Standards: Proficient:
  • Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks
  • Students conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates to the media, techniques, and processes they use
  • Students communicate ideas regularly at a high level of effectiveness in at least one visual arts medium
  • Students initiate, define, and solve challenging visual arts problems independently using intellectual skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music Domain: 9–12 Visual Arts Cluster: Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines Grade(s): Grades 9–12 Standards: Proficient:
  • Students compare the materials, technologies, media, and processes of the visual arts with those of other arts disciplines as they are used in creation and types of analysis
  • Students compare characteristics of visual arts within a particular historical period or style with ideas, issues, or themes in the humanities or sciences
  • Students synthesize the creative and analytical principles and techniques of the visual arts and selected other arts disciplines, the humanities, or the science