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Franklin’s Fortune

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Students will learn that fifty cents in the past could buy much more than it can today. They will construct graphs showing how the buying power of fifty cents has changed over time. They will also graph how the price of a product has changed over time. Students will also write percentage increase rate problems.

Coin Type(s)

  • Half dollar

Coin Program(s)

  • Generic


  • Students will demonstrate an understanding that the purchasing power of fifty cents was greater in the past than it is today.
  • Students will construct graphs showing how the buying power of fifty cents has changed over time as well as how the price of a product has changed over time.
  • Students will apply the information learned by composing mathematical problems relating to the percentage increase rate of a product.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Math

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Technology


  • Sixth grade
  • Seventh grade
  • Eighth grade

Class Time

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


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Coins
  • Cold War
  • Economics
  • Money
  • Problem solving
  • Writing



Bookmark the above sites for easy reference during research.

  1. Show the students either pictures or actual coins of the Franklin and Kennedy half dollars. Ask the students to identify the values of the coins. (Most will know that they are worth fifty cents.)
  2. Ask the students how much a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, and a gallon of gas are today. Use to verify. Record the amount on a class chart for reference.
  3. Ask the students what they think these products cost in 1950 and 1970. Record all predictions on the board.
  4. Have the students find the actual average costs of these products and record them on the chart.
  5. Have the students pick one product (bread, milk or gas). Starting at 1900 and researching every ten years, have the students record the prices for the product.
  6. Have the students construct a bar graph of the results. The barr graph should be titled and the axes labeled axis (X=Years, Y=Cost).
  7. Review the percentage of rate increase with the class using the class chart.
  8. Have the students write their own percentage increase word problems using the information collected above. Have the students pick two years and then calculate the percentage rate increase for their product.


Have students research the reasons why the price of these products increased over time.

  • Use the bar graphs and percentage rate increase word problems to assess whether the students have met the lesson objectives.
  • A standard rubric could also be used.
There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

Discipline: Math
Domain: 4.MD Measurement and Data
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit

  • 4.MD.1. Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm, kg, g, lb, oz, l, ml, hr, min and sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two column table.
    • For example, know that 1ft is 12 times as long as 1in. Express the length of a 4ft snake as 48in. Generate a conversion table for feet and inches listing the number pairs (1, 12), (2, 24), (3, 36), ...
  • 4.MD.2. Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.
  • 4.MD.3. Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems. For example, find the width of a rectangular room given the area of the flooring and the length, by viewing the area formula as a multiplication equation with an unknown factor. 

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: All Problem Solving
Cluster: Instructional programs from kindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving
  • Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts
  • Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems
  • Monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical problem solving

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: 6-8 Data Analysis and Probability
Cluster: Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data.
Grade(s): Grades K–12

In grades 6–8 all students should

  • use observations about differences between two or more samples to make conjectures about the populations from which the samples were taken;
  • make conjectures about possible relationships between two characteristics of a sample on the basis of scatterplots of the data and approximate lines of fit; and
  • use conjectures to formulate new questions and plan new studies to answer them.

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: 6-8 Data Analysis and Probability
Cluster: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them.
Grade(s): Grades K–12

In grades 6–8 all students should

  • formulate questions, design studies, and collect data about a characteristic shared by two populations or different characteristics within one population; and
  • select, create, and use appropriate graphical representations of data, including histograms, box plots, and scatterplots.

Discipline: Mathematics
Domain: 6-8 Data Analysis and Probability
Cluster: Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data.
Grade(s): Grades K–12

In grades 6–8 all students should

  • find, use, and interpret measures of center and spread, including mean and interquartile range; and
  • discuss and understand the correspondence between data sets and their graphical representations, especially histograms, stem-and-leaf plots, box plots, and scatterplots.

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: Production, Distribution, and Consumption
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • enable learners to explain how the scarcity of productive resources (human, capital, technological, and natural) requires the development of economic systems to make decisions about how goods and services are to be produced and distributed
  • help learners analyze the role that supply and demand, prices, incentives, and profits play in determining what is produced and distributed in a competitive market system
  • help learners compare the costs and benefits to society of allocating goods and services through private and public means
  • assist learners in understanding the relationships among the various economic institutions that comprise economic systems such as households, businesses, banks, government agencies, labor unions, and corporations
  • guide learner analysis of the role of specialization and exchange in economic processes
  • provide opportunities for learners to assess how values and beliefs influence private and public economic decisions in different societies
  • have learners compare basic economic systems according to how they deal with demand, supply, prices, the role of government, banks, labor and labor unions, savings and investments, and capital
  • challenge learners to apply economic concepts and reasoning when evaluating historical and contemporary social developments and issues
  • enable learners to distinguish between domestic and global economic systems, and explain how the two interact
  • guide learners in the application of economic concepts and principles in the analysis of public issues such as the allocation of health care or the consumption of energy, and in devising economic plans for accomplishing socially desirable outcomes related to such issues
  • help learners critically examine the values and assumptions underlying the theories and models of economics
  • help learners to distinguish between economics as a field of inquiry and the economy