Do you think it's important to have more women on paper currency? Why or why not?
What do you know about Harriet Tubman? Do you think she's a good choice for the $20 bill?
Why do you think it's been more than 100 years since the last woman was featured on paper money in the U.S.?
Imagine that you had written a letter to President Obama stating that there should be more women on U.S. currency. What reasons would have included to support your opinion?
- Inform the class that money is one way that countries honor the history and values of their people. The portrait on the front of a note or coin is just the beginning. There are also symbols and pictures on the back. Each item has significant meaning to the country it represents. And as a country's history and values evolve, so does the design of its currency.
- As a class, visit the U.S. Department of Treasury site on "Coins and Currency." Explore how U.S. coins and notes have changed in the past. Examine the department's Modern Money site to learn how the $20, $10 and $5 notes will change in the future.
- Have the class brainstorm a list of reasons someone might be featured on coins or currency. Instruct students to select key criteria to investigate. For example: men vs. women; past vs. present figures; or political leaders vs. non-politicians. Compile this information as it relates to money in the U.S.
- Then have students conduct research to compile this same information about coins and notes used across the globe. Calculate the results.
- Remind students that the U.S. Treasury will soon feature Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 note. Inform them that she was selected from hundreds of nominees.
- Instruct students to select another person who they consider to be worthy of this honor. Give them time to conduct research to learn more about their nominee. Then have students write a persuasive argument stating their case. Challenge them to find a creative way to use the results of their calculations to strengthen their argument.
Invite students to share their persuasive arguments with the class. After all papers have been read, have students vote to select the one person they think is most deserving of this honor. Brainstorm ideas about how this person's image could be included on a U.S. coin or note.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Have the class select three key criteria to investigate. Then have students select five countries. Investigate the notes (bills) used in each. Work together to compile the results. Instruct the class to select one person to honor in the U.S. Divide the class into small groups. Have each group conduct research to learn more about this person. Challenge them to write a persuasive argument supporting their nominee.
As a class, select three key criteria to investigate. Then divide the class into small groups. Have each group select one country on each continent except for Antarctica. Tell them to investigate the notes (bills) used in each location. Then have them compile the results. Encourage each group to select one person to honor in the U.S. Instruct groups to write a persuasive argument supporting their nominee. Challenge them to incorporate the results of their calculations into their report.
As a class, select five key criteria to investigate. Then assign each student a partner. Have each pair select 10 countries around the world. Tell them to investigate the coins and notes used in each location and compile the results. Then instruct partners to select one person to honor in the U.S. Have them write a persuasive argument supporting their nominee. Challenge them to find a creative way to use the results of their calculations in their reports.
As a class, select five key criteria to investigate. Then have each student select 10 countries around the world. Instruct them to investigate the coins and notes used in each location and compile the results. Then have each student identify the person they'd most like to honor in the U.S. Instruct them to write a persuasive argument supporting their nominee. Challenge them to find a creative way to use the results of their calculations in their reports.
Read this Smithsonian article to learn about the evolution of the five-cent coin as it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2016.
In this lesson, students will design their own money based on the idea that United States currency uses symbols to convey meaning.
Use these Smithsonian lessons to help students examine the growing role and ever-changing appearance of paper money during Revolutionary period of U.S. history.
Explore this Smithsonian exhibit to learn about coins and notes from around the world that have become legendary over time.
Read this Smithsonian article to learn about Harriet Tubman and why Nancy Bercaw, curator from the African American History Museum, thinks Tubman’s new role is an important part of the freedom fighter’s ongoing legacy.
Read this story to learn about the National Museum of American History’s new display “Women on Money.” The display places the redesign of U.S. paper money into a global context and demonstrates that women have appeared on money from ancient times to the present day.