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Serving Our Nation

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Students will read about and research the lives of specific war veterans who have been honored on coins or medals to compare their common characteristics and differences.

Coin Type(s)

  • Cent
  • Nickel
  • Dime
  • Quarter
  • Half dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Commemoratives
  • Generic


Students will do research and use charts and posters to explain common characteristics and differences of war veterans.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts


  • Third grade
  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade
  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

Sessions: One
Session Length: 90 minutes
Total Length: 46-90 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • American history
  • Coins
  • Commemorative coins
  • History
  • Medals
  • Veterans
  • War


  • The United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket Change™ Web site (
  • The United States Mint Web site (
  • Appropriate websites for researching coin histories or biographical information about military veterans
  • Computer lab access/library access
  • Copies of a group chart (columns should be where students write their information, the rows should be as follows: name of the war, name of the coin/medal selected, name of the veteran(s)commemorated, the branch of the military in which that individual(s) served, and the event or behavior that made that individual memorable)
  • Pencils
  • Poster board (1 sheet per group)
  • Markers


  • Bookmark research sites in advance if desired.
  • Make copies of group chart (1 per group).
  • Create a rubric if desired.
  1. Select one or two coins or medals and display enlarged versions for your students to see. They should represent those who fought in two different wars.
  2. Ask the students why they believe that these coins or medals were created and who they were meant to honor. Answers should relate to the idea that they were created to honor people who served in the military.
  3. As a class, discuss and define the word "veteran." Ask students to explain why the United States Mint would decide to produce coins that honor veterns rather than a different segment of the population.
  4. Divide the students into five groups and assign to each group one of the wars that the United States participated in. As a member of the group, each student will use either the United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket Change Web site or another source to find a coin or medal that was created to honor the service of someone (or several people) who participated in that group's assigned war.
  5. Have the students independently research why the selected coin was created and who it honors. Have them also research some biographical information about the person or people honored, especially which branch of the military was involved and what event or behavior made the honoree(s) particularly memorable.
  6. Ater the students complete this independent research, form new groups of 5 composed of one member from each of the original groups.
  7. In these new groups, the students will create a chart listing the name of each war, the name of the coin or medal selected by that war's group, the name of the veteran(s) commemorated, the branch of the military involved, and the event or behavior that made the honoree(s)memorable.
  8. Have these groups discuss some common characteristics of military veterans that transcend the particular war in which they fought.
  9. Have each of these groups develop a poster based on their discussion. This poster should describe what it means to be a military veteran and should include illustrations as well as written words.
  10. Have each group select a resentative to present the poster to the class and explain why the images and words were selected.
  11. Create a bulletin board entitled “Those Who Served to Keep Us Free” and display each group’s poster on it.



Select a different theme and invite students to explore other commemorative coins and medals that the United States Mint produces that explore this theme (such as scientists, women in history, artists, African American history).

  • Evaluate the group charts, posters, and students' participation to assess how well the students have met the lesson objectives.
  • Use a rubric if desired.
There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

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

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Culture and Cultural Diversity
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand and apply the concept of culture as an integrated whole that governs the functions and interactions of language, literature, arts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behavior patterns
  • enable learners to analyze and explain how groups, societies, and cultures address human needs and concerns
  • guide learners as they predict how experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference
  • encourage learners to compare and analyze societal patterns for transmitting and preserving culture while adapting to environmental and social change
  • enable learners to assess the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups
  • have learners interpret patterns of behavior as reflecting values and attitudes which contribute to or pose obstacles to cross-cultural understanding
  • guide learners in constructing reasoned judgments about specific cultural responses to persistent human issues
  • have learners explain and apply ideas, theories, and modes of inquiry drawn from anthropology and sociology in the examination of persistent issues and social problems

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Time, Continuity, and Change
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand that historical knowledge and the concept of time are socially influenced constructions that lead historians to be selective in the questions they seek to answer and the evidence they use
  • help learners apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity
  • enable learners to identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, including but not limited to, the development of ancient cultures and civilizations, the emergence of religious belief systems, the rise of nation-states, and social, economic, and political revolutions
  • guide learners in using such processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and interpret the past, such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, searching for causality, and distinguishing between events and developments that are significant and those that are inconsequential
  • provide learners with opportunities to investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues, while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment; and enable learners to apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments, and to inform and evaluate actions concerning public policy issues.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Civic Ideals and Practices
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • assist learners in understanding the origins and continuing influence of key ideals of the democratic republican form of government, such as individual human dignity, liberty, justice, equality, and the rule of law
  • guide learner efforts to identify, analyze, interpret, and evaluate sources and examples of citizens’ rights and responsibilities
  • facilitate learner efforts to locate, access, analyze, organize, synthesize, evaluate, and apply information about selected public issues—identifying, describing, and evaluating multiple points of view and taking reasoned positions on such issues
  • provide opportunities for learners to practice forms of civic discussion and participation consistent with the ideals of citizens in a democratic republic
  • help learners to analyze and evaluate the influence of various forms of citizen action on public policy
  • prepare learners to analyze a variety of public policies and issues from the perspective of formal and informal political actors
  • guide learners as they evaluate the effectiveness of public opinion in influencing and shaping public policy development and decision-making
  • encourage learner efforts to evaluate the degree to which public policies and citizen behaviors reflect or foster the stated ideals of a democratic republican form of government
  • support learner efforts to construct policy statements and action plans to achieve goals related to issues of public concern
  • create opportunities for learner participation in activities to strengthen the “common good,” based upon careful evaluation of possible options for citizen action

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Power, Authority, and Governance
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • enable learners to examine the rights and responsibilities of the individual in relation to their families, their social groups, their community, and their nation; help students to understand the purpose of government and how its powers are acquired, used, and justified
  • provide opportunities for learners to examine issues involving the rights, roles, and status of individuals in relation to the general welfare
  • enable learners to describe the ways nations and organizations respond to forces of unity and diversity affecting order and security
  • have learners explain conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among nations
  • help learners to analyze and explain governmental mechanisms to meet the needs and wants of citizens, regulate territory, manage conflict, and establish order and security
  • have learners identify and describe the basic features of the American political system, and identify representative leaders from various levels and branches of government
  • challenge learners to apply concepts such as power, role, status, justice, democratic values, and influence to the examination of persistent issues and social problems guide learners to explain and evaluate how governments attempt to achieve their stated ideals at home and abroad