Money and coins provide a fascinating look into a country’s heritage and ideals. We used currency to learn a little bit about our own country and others around the world.
Last spring, my kids asked to learn more about money. At the start of the season, I always ask them what they want to learn about and try to formulate some interdisciplinary unit studies from their ideas. In this post I’ll share how we used the theme of money to learn geography. I have a free .pdf and some resources too.
As we first started exploring U.S. currency, the kids noticed that the images on the quarters were all different. There’s a series of state quarters and another recent one of beautiful landmarks.
I made a document with all the state and territory quarter designs, printed it on thick, glossy paper, and cut them out. We used a large map to match the coin with its state. It was a really good chance to talk about the states and pay attention to where they are located.
We made a lot of observations about what was on the design—lots of animals and famous landmarks. We ended up playing a guessing game. My son would pick a quarter and give us clues about what was on it while my husband and I guessed which state it belonged to.
It is really important to me to include Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Territories to acknowledge that they are a part of our country. Unfortunately, there are too many people who don’t want to recognize that they are citizens—just as ‘American’—as the rest of us.
You can download your copy of the U.S. State and Territory Quarter designs below.
We’ve also used currency in some of our other country studies. My husband has a pretty great coin collection but if you don’t have access to one, you can find high-quality images online.
Banknotes.com is a commercial website, but it includes a vast amount of currency images in an easy-to-search format. You can also find fantastic ideas on the U.S. Mint and Federal Reserve websites. I’ve been wanting to take a field trip to the mint. Has anybody been? Please share your ideas for teaching about money with geography in the comments below. Look out for more stuff from our unit study about money.