Learning centers are a great way to promote student responsibility, independence, and small group or one-to-one learning opportunities for students through self-discovery.
Games, Web Quests, and Virtual Fun
The United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket Change Web site has a variety of games, WebQuests, and cartoons for your students to engage in. To find a game that is just right for the students in your classroom, visit the Games Center to find descriptions, skills used, and connections to content areas. WebQuests and Toons are other features that allow students to explore coins and history right from the classroom.
Computer Learning Center
Decorate the classroom computer learning center using the United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket Change™ Pals, or any of the coin images found on the coloring pages. Create a poster or large print list that explains the computer center rules and also directs students to approved or bookmarked Web sites.
Use the Classroom Timer Gadget to set the center time. The Timer Gadget can be projected at the front of the classroom, set to either countdown or count up the designated amount of time, and also can be set to sound a buzzer when it is time for the students to rotate.
Using the H.I.P. Pocket Change Pals coloring page, print, color, cut, and laminate two copies of each of the seven Pals. Create a "Centers Schedule," and assign each center area a Pal. Post in a prominent classroom location. Group the students and give each student group a Pal to carry from center to center. Students can follow the schedule by looking for their Pal to make sure they are in the correct center location.
Invite students to explore and sort coins using a sensory table and class sets of play money. Fill a sensory table with sand, water, or any other safe materials that have been used in the classroom. Mix in a variety of coins for students to search out. On index cards or sentence strips, create grouping labels such as "value", "size", "edges", and "color". Have the students search the sensory table and place coins into groups under the labels. Have the students complete a graphic organizer to demonstrate learned coin knowledge.
Shapes, Shapes Everywhere!
Provide a discovery box filled with differently shaped objects and labels for shapes such as circle, square, triangle, and rectangle. Have the students sort and label the objects by shape. Include coins (play or real) in the box to show the circle shape. Have the students complete the worksheets found in "Shapes, Shapes Everywhere!" lesson plan to demonstrate learned coin knowledge.
Using the coin coloring pages, print out the six different coins denominations for the students to use. Using index cards, write the name of the coin on one side and the value of the coin on the opposite side. Laminate and leave these cards at the center as a model. At the learning center, have the students color and cut out the six coins to make a circulating set. Punch a hole at the top of each of the student's coins. Give each student six (hole punched) index cards to complete for the colored coin images. Provide pieces of yarn for students to string through the coins and matching index cards. Attach the coin images and cards to small wooden rods or hangers and display the mobiles around the classroom.
Social Studies and Language Arts
Print and laminate the full set of the 50 States Quarters® Program images. Using a class map of the United States, attach Velcro pieces to each state and coin. Place an envelope containing all of the coin images at the map center and have the students randomly select a coin and correctly match it to corresponding area the map. As an extension, repeat the activity, using the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Program images and a class map of the world. If playing "Map Match" with the whole class, use the Time Gadget "team score keeping" option to keep track of correct matches and team turns.
To celebrate President's Day in your classroom create a President's bulletin board display. Using different coin images, allow the students to select an image to color and cut out during an art center activity time. Provide each student with a sentence strip and a prompt such as "This President is famous for…" Have the students complete the prompts during the writing center time. Display the prompt, the student's coins, and responses on a bulletin board.
Fill a large container with water and place a small cup or glass in the bottom facing upright. Provide student cups filled with (10-15) different types of coins. Using a recording chart, have the students predict which coin will end up in the cup the most often, and summarize their reasons. Have the students drop the coins into the water trying to get them into the glass. Have the students record how many coins went into the cup and compare the number to their earlier predictions. For an extension activity, provide each student in the group with a specific type of coin and note any differences in the outcome of the experiment. Create a class graph to represent how many times each coin ended up the cup.
Prepare a coin observation center with magnifying glasses, rulers, balance scales, and a recording sheet where students can note various properties about the coins. Provide the students with an assortment of coins, including foreign coins, if possible. Have the students use graphic organizers to note similarities and differences among the coins. Have the students write summary sentences about their observations and discuss findings as a class.
Use coin rubbing designs to create special writing notepaper. Place a variety of coins between tracing paper and heavy white paper. Have the students rub the coins with a brown, silver, or copper colored crayon, or colored pencil, to make a coin rubbing design around the words. Invite the students to complete a writing assignment on the special notepaper. Display in the classroom.
Invite your students to visit the Games page and put their artistic skills to use. Your students can use an artist palette to color on screen pictures from the 50 State Quarters and the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Programs, use virtual coins to create their own greeting cards to print and color, and choose words and pictures to design their own coin.
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