State Quarters-Tools to Extend Geography and History Lessons. (Classroom Idea-Sparkers)

Article excerpt

* Large-sized (mountable) political 
  map of the United States 
* Classroom atlases 
* Poster paper, crayons, pencils 
* Teacher's set of state quarters 
  (my local bank was very willing 
  to supply a complete set of 
  coins released to date). 

In 1999, the first in the series of state quarters, representing the state of Delaware, was released. Since then, the images on the coins have captivated children and adults alike. What will the next one look like? Five new quarters a year are scheduled for release until 2008. Collecting coins has become exciting for many. Educators can creatively and imaginatively use these quarters in lessons on the geography and history of the United States. The coins stimulate brainstorming, imagery, and critical thinking.


* Connecting places, events, and people

* Appreciating different points of view

* Collaborative work

* Research


Let each of the children choose a state quarter. Give children a week or so to find a coin of their choice. I like announcing such events before a weekend--this way, the children are able to get their parents to help them find the "right" quarter.

Hang up a large political map of the United States where it will be undisturbed. As the children bring in "their" coins, let them write their names on colorful stickers. Have them identify the particular state they have chosen and place their stickers on the corresponding area of the map.

The children will take pride in their "ownership." They will also be accountable for researching and presenting information on their particular state and quarter. Even if more than one student chooses a particular state, each child's research and presentation will be unique. Children will exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Set up a swap time in class when the children can exchange coins. Some of my students who were not able to find a coin of their choice were able to do so at the swap time. No one was allowed to ask for or pay more than the face value of a coin in exchange for a new quarter. This rule should be firmly established.

Discuss with children the importance of the order in which the coins are being released. This makes a great history lesson. Such discussions will add to the students' knowledge.

Develop a rubric in collaboration with the children. Decide what aspects should be researched. Some suggestions include:

* The year in which the state joined the union (e.g., Delaware joined in 1787)

* The order in which it joined the union (e.g., Delaware was the first to join)

* Importance of the image on the coin

* Four important facts about the state

* Location of the state in the United States.

Suggested resources for research: library resources, on-line resources, brochures available from the U.S. Mint. Encourage children to call their friends and relatives in other states to inquire about the history of different states. …