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Putting It All Together

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Students will connect the symbols from the designs of the United States Mint 50 State Quarters® Program to our country’s early history. They will explore the ways in which this program reflects the nation’s history, diversity, unity, pride and commitment to maintaining these American ideals.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters


  • Students will connect the symbols from the designs of the United States Mint 50 State Quarters® Program to our country’s early history.
  • They will explore the ways in which this program reflects the nation’s history, diversity, unity, pride and commitment to maintaining these American ideals.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies


  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Two
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • The United States Mint 50 State Quarters Program
  • Diversity
  • Pride
  • Identity


  • Copies of the “Anticipation Guide” (1 per student)
  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 overhead transparency of the “Quarter Designs” sheet (1 per student)
  • Copies of the following:
    • “Quarter Designs” sheet on page 71
    • Each assigned state’s quarter reverse (1 reverse design per student)
    • “Prediction and Fact” worksheet (1 per student)
    • “Quarter Information” sheets on pages 58 to 69 (1 packet per student)
    • “Behind the Symbols” note-taking guide (6 per student)
  • Classroom Social Studies text (1 per student)
  • Overhead  markers (optional)
  • 1 copy of the “Key Concepts” page
  • 1 copy of the “Early American Links” concept map
  • Copies of the “Design Reflection” assignment (1 per student)
  • Copies of the “Design Reflection Rubric” (1 per student)


  • Make copies of the related worksheets.
  • Bookmark related Web sites.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at

Session 1

  1. Distribute an “Anticipation Guide” and a “Quarter Design” page to each student. Review the “Anticipation Guide” instructions and questions as a class, and allow 10 minutes for its completion.
  2. As a class, review the students’ responses and discuss the observations that the students made. Ask the students questions in which they will define why, how, and to what extent each state felt the symbols on their quarter reverse were important. Be sure to note that while the students’ opinions or conclusions may be historically grounded, they may not be exactly what the artist meant to depict.
  3. Assign each student a new quarter outline that represents a state that entered the union prior to 1812. These states include Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio.  Note: Some students may be assigned the same state.
  4. Direct the students to look at their assigned quarter design and make some predictions about what they think the symbols mean.
  5. Distribute a “Prediction and Fact” worksheet to each student.
  6. Read the directions aloud and allow the students an appropriate amount of time to read and answer questions 1 through 4.
  7. Distribute a “Quarter Information” packet to each student.
  8. Instruct the students to use the fact sheet to answer questions 5-7 on the “Prediction and Fact” worksheet. Allow the students ample time to read and answer these questions.  Explain that the students will be taking turns explaining the meaning of their state’s quarter reverse design to the class.
  9. Distribute an “Behind the Symbols” note-taking guide to each student, and explain that each student will be responsible for listening and taking notes on the other students’ presentations.
  10. Students will present their information to the class.

Session 2

  1. Post the terms and concepts on the chalkboard, and review their meanings with the students.
  2. If class presentations were not completed during the previous session, allow enough time for their completion.
  3. As a class, brainstorm a list of the events, themes, dates, individuals, and cultural aspects from these coins that relate to the history of the researched states. Record this list for all students to see.  Note: If necessary, refer to the “Key Concepts” list for information to include.
  4. Assign each student a partner. Based on the ideas that were brainstormed, each pair will have ten minutes to develop a concept map.
  5. Model the process for developing a concept map with the students, connecting at least three concepts from the list brainstormed earlier. Display this concept map for all students to see.
  6. Direct the students to reference their classroom text to research any key information which would connect the concepts listed. Students should work with their partners to complete this assignment.
  7. After students have completed their group work, invite them to contribute their own ideas in order to finish the concept map that they began as a class in step 5. Determine the most inclusive key term in the list, and place that term at the top. If necessary, refer to the “EarlyAmerican Links” concept map for guidance.
  8. After the class concept map is completed, model how students can construct meaningful, informative and accurate sentences based on this graphic organizer. Work with students to develop examples based on the class concept map. Some examples could include: Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Jefferson was in France in 1787, the year the United States Constitution was written at the Constitutional Convention, Thomas Jefferson became president and made the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, which was explored by William Clark and Meriwether Lewis on the Corps of Discovery.
  9. Direct students to copy the class concept map for future reference.
  10. Distribute a “Design Reflection” assignment and its related rubric to each student. Review these pages with your students and for homework, instruct students to use the class concept map to help them develop an essay which answers the question, “How do the events, ideals, individuals, and stories that are represented on the first 18 quarters minted in the 50 State Quarters Program reflect significant aspects of American History from 1776 until 1812?”


  • Direct students to design an Internet search based on U.S. historical events prior to 1812 using the United States Mint Web site (
  • Ask students to research a particular state’s process of determining the concepts and themes included on the new quarters.

Use the worksheets and class participation to assess whether the students have met the lesson objectives.

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

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