Begin your study of dollar coins with an up-close study. Divide your students into small groups of two or three. Give each group a golden dollar, a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar, and a magnifying glass, if possible. Ask each group to look at the details on the coin. Who is pictured? What symbols are present? What do the words mean? Challenge the class to find answers by visiting the U.S. Mint website. Each group can use their newfound knowledge to make a large diagram with arrows and labels identifying each detail of the golden dollar.
Mixed Up Money
Challenge your students to tell the difference, without looking, between similar-sized coins. When the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar was issued in 1979, the public confused its size, shape, and color with the quarter. Can your students distinguish between the silver dollar and the quarter? How about the quarter and the golden dollar? To find out, place one silver dollar and one quarter inside a bag. Let each child reach inside and try to pull out the dollar coin using their sense of touch. Then try the golden dollar coin. Ask students to keep track of the results and use them to create a bar graph. Was one coin easier to identify? Challenge your class to figure out why!
— Frank Murphy, Newton Elementary School, Newton, PA
Change for a Dollar
See how many ways your students can make change for a dollar. Would you believe there are 294 ways to make change for a dollar? How many combinations can your students find? Give each group 2 half-dollars, 4 quarters, 10 dimes, 20 nickels, and 100 pennies. Set a time limit, and challenge students to work together to create and record coin combinations using abbreviations such as 3 Q, 2 D, 1 N. When time is up, ask each group to count the number of combinations they have recorded. Which group came up with the most? Did they use any strategies such as recording combinations with one quarter, then two, and so on? What patterns did they see developing?
Sacagawea on the Map
Help your students learn more about Sacagawea, and practice making maps! Sacagawea joined the Lewis and Clark expedition at the age of fifteen. She served as a guide, translator, and diplomat as they traveled from the Northern Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean and back again. Help your students learn more about Sacagawea by creating maps that highlight her contributions along the trail. Give each child a copy of the United States map and guide them in charting the route Lewis and Clark took as they traveled west. Use stickers or colored pencils to create a corresponding key.
- Sacagawea and her husband joined the Lewis and Clark expedition at Fort Mandan (near present-day Washburn, North Dakota).
- As the explorers passed the Yellowstone River (near present-day Wolf Point, Montana), a fierce windstorm nearly capsized the pirogue (small boat) carrying important supplies. Sacagawea saved many of the items.
- Sacagawea was reunited with her brother, chief of the Shoshone Tribe, at Camp Fortunate (near present-day Dillon, Montana). Sacagawea assisted in obtaining horses for the expedition and made arrangements for the Shoshone to care for the canoes so they would be protected and ready for the return trip.
- In mid-November 1805, the expedition reached the sands of the Pacific Ocean (at the mouth of the Columbia River.)
— Janet Worthington-Samo , St. Clement School, Johnstown, PA
Sacagawea was the favorite choice of the Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee, but they considered many other great American women from the past including Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Pocahontas, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rosa Parks. Challenge your students to choose a great American to honor and make their own coin designs to present to an advisory committee. Give the class a list of great Americans and ask them to find out about each person. Then, let each student choose a person to honor with a coin. Ask them to write a short essay about their choice.
Give students large circles of paper for their coins. Encourage them to use their creativity in designing the coins. They can draw portraits, design new symbols, and even add their own significant words. When all the coins are finished, ask each student to present his or her coin and talk about its design.
— Adapted from an idea by Frank Murphy, Newton Elementary School, Newton, PA