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U.S. Mint Releases New Jefferson Nickel


  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies
    --Current Events
    ----U.S. History


Grades 2-up

News Content

The U.S. nickel has been redesigned in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's expedition to the Pacific.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, write Lewis and Clark on the board or a chart. Ask students if they are familiar with the names. (No, Lewis and Clark is not a new boy band or a new comedy team.) Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were the two men who in the early 1800's were chosen to lead an expedition of the Louisiana Purchase territories of the United States. At that time, the United States had only 16 states. President Thomas Jefferson played a key role in helping the United States acquire the land that would later become the western states, but that land was pretty much unexplored. Lewis and Clark hoped to map a route across this newly acquired land to the Pacific Ocean. In honor of the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's brave journey, the U.S. Mint has redesigned the nickel.

News Words

Introduce these words from the News Word box on the students' printable page:

  • image -- a representation of a person, place, or thing. For example, a painting or statue might bear the image of George Washington.
  • profile -- a side view or drawing of someone's head

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story U.S. Mint Releases New Jefferson Nickel.

Reading the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

* Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

* Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

* Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story.

  • The new nickel's image of Jefferson is taken from an 1800 Rembrandt Peale portrait of the president. The word "Liberty" also appears on the front of the coin in Jefferson's handwriting.
  • Jefferson's Virginia home, Monticello, appears on the back of the coin. Monticello had been on the nickel for many years, but in 2004 the U.S. Mint introduced their "Westward Journey Nickel Series" to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition. For the last two years, newly minted nickels carried a variety of different images including a keel boat like the one Lewis and Clark traveled in and a view of the Pacific Ocean as Lewis and Clark might have seen it.
  • Now that the nickel has been redesigned, the U.S. Mint will turn its efforts toward its 2009 redesign of the penny; that redesign will coincide with the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Lincoln's image on the coin will remain in profile, but the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side will be replaced with a variety of images representing Lincoln's life.

More About Thomas Jefferson

  • Thomas Jefferson served as governor of Virginia, U.S. minister to France, secretary of state under George Washington, vice president under John Adams, and president. But his tombstone recognizes none of those milestones because Jefferson preferred to be remembered as "author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia."
  • Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. He collected input from others, including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.
  • Jefferson died at Monticello on July 4, 1826, which also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Comprehension Check

You might ask some of these questions after students have read this week's News for KIDS article:
  • Whose image appears on the front of the U.S. nickel? (President Thomas Jefferson)
  • How is the front of the new nickel different from its predecessor? (Jefferson's image is facing forward instead of being seen in profile; students might also note that the word Liberty appears in his handwriting too.)
  • How many of the new nickels will be released this year? (about a billion)
  • What image appears on the back of the new nickel? (Jefferson's home in Virginia, called Monticello)

Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students' news page.

Follow-Up Activities

Math - Money. If you teach young students, provide them with a sheet with 10 photocopied nickels on it; you might enlarge the nickels for easier cutting. Have students cut out and count out the nickels as you ask them to identify how many nickels they would get if you gave them 15 cents in nickels? (3 nickels) 35 cents? (7 nickels) 50 cents? (10 nickels) a dollar? (20 nickels) Older students will be able to do this without the aid of the paper nickels.

Geography. Share with students this map showing the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition, or point out the route on a large classroom map. Through what modern-day states did their route take them? (Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon)

Thomas Jefferson designed every detail of his mansion, Monticello. You can take a room-by-room tour of Monticello. You might follow-up that tour by having students create an "aerial view" map of their classroom or of the layout of their own homes; those maps will be similar to view of Monticello that appears on the tour. You might also enjoy sharing with students this 3-D tour of Monticello.

ABC Order. At the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition there were 16 U.S. states. Here they are in the order in which they entered the union: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee. Share the list with students and have them alphabetize the state names.


Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on their news story page.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NSS-USH.K-4.1 Living and Working together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.4 Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)

See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World