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U.S. Penny to Get Four New Designs




Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Visual Arts

--Applied Math

Social Studies
--Current Events
----U.S. History


Grades 2-up

News Content

The back side of the U.S. penny is about to get a design makeover.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to talk about the people who appear on our countrys currency. Make a list of common coins and bills and identify the figure who appears on each denomination.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: profile, anniversary, issued, educated, design, and legislature. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Petey and his family were throwing a party for his grandparents 25th wedding _____. (anniversary)
  • Lawmakers in the state _____ are scheduled to vote on a tax hike next month. (legislature)
  • A new stamp will be _____ in 2009 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alaskas statehood. (issued)
  • The artist had the woman pose so he could paint her _____. (profile)
  • If I could give my bedroom a _____ makeover, I would put in a skylight over my bed. (design)
  • Henriettas father was _____ at the University of Rhode Island. (educated)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story U.S. Penny to Get Four New Designs.

    More Facts to Share

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

  • The makeover of the penny is timed to celebrate the bicentennial or 200th anniversary, of Abraham Lincoln's birth.


    You might share with students the images of the new coins. Click the links below to see them:
  • Lincoln boyhood home (small image, large image)
  • Lincoln as a teen (small, large)
  • Lincoln as an Illinois legislator (small, large)
  • U.S. Capitol under construction (small, large)

  • The new penny designs were revealed September 22 (2008) in an event at the Lincoln Memorial. These coins are a tribute to one of our greatest Presidents whose legacy has had a lasting impact on our country," said Ed Moy, director of the U.S. Mint in Washington, D.C. He believed all men were created equal, and his life was a model for accomplishing the American dream through honesty, integrity, loyalty, and a lifetime of education."
  • The Mint also announced that a commemorative Lincoln silver dollar will be released in 2009.
  • The first 1-cent coin was introduced in 1793.
  • Did you know it costs almost two cents for the U.S. Mint to make a penny and almost a dime to make a nickel?
  • Some people think the penny coin should be eliminated because it costs more to mint than it is worth. Those people say the penny should go the way of the 2-cent, 3-cent, and 20-cent coins, which were eliminated in the 1800s.
  • The U.S. Mint turns out 8 billion shiny new pennies each year. Contrary to popular belief, a penny is not made of copper. Since 1982, the penny has been 98 percent zinc.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • For how long has Abraham Lincolns profile appeared on the U.S. penny? (100 years [in 2009])
  • Why has the U.S. mint decided to redesign the penny at this time? (2009 is the 200th anniversary of Lincolns birth and the 100th anniversary of his profile appearing on the penny)
  • How many different designs will appear on the back side of the penny? (four different designs)
  • Which will be the first design to be issued? (the one that depicts a log cabin of the kind in which Lincoln was born)
  • In which U.S. states legislature did Lincoln work? (Illinois)
  • The words E Pluribus Unum appear on the back of the penny. What do those words mean? (The words mean from many, one." When originally coined," that motto is thought to have reflected how many colonies or states forged themselves into a single nation. Today, it is often used to reflect the concept of America as a melting pot: how people of many nationalities, races, and creeds have become a single people or nation.)
  • For what events is President Lincoln best remembered? (Those events include the Civil War and freeing the slaves.)

    Think About the News
    The practicality of the penny is a subject of debate. Those who think the penny should be retired say it costs about 1.5 cents to produce each penny, so the coins cost more than they are worth. Pennies slow down transactions at cash registers too, they add.

    On the other side of the coin," there are those who believe getting rid of the penny would be wrong. If the penny is retired, transactions would be rounded to the nearest nickel; that means many things bought at stores will be more expensive. The penny coin is too historically significant to stop producing it, they add.

    Give each student two pennies. As you debate whether or not the penny should be retired, students will hand back one of their pennies each time they share a thought pro or con. Once a student has given his or her two cents worth," s/he must let others contribute their two cents worth to the conversation before being allowed to offer additional arguments.

    For additional ideas and resources for about the penny debate, see the Follow-Up Activities section below.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Language arts note-taking. If you teach students in grades 4 and up, you might share a segment of 60 Minutes, Should We Make Cents?, narrated by Morley Safer. Click the view larger" icon in the lower right corner so the video can be viewed full screen, and invite students to take notes about arguments on both sides of the penny debate as the 11-minute video plays.

    Penny Lessons

    Extend this lesson with these ideas from Education World.

    Million Dollar Mission
    Students figure out whether it's more profitable to start with a penny and double their money every day for a month or to accept $1 million on the first of the month.

    Coin Count and Classification
    Students make a prediction about how 100 pennies will sort by decade or year and then test their predictions.

    Coin Combinations
    Create coin combinations less than a dollar.

    History timeline. Arrange students into groups and provide photocopies of the coins listed below. Challenge students to create a timeline to show how the U.S. penny has changed over time. They might include information they learned about the coins on their timelines.
    Large Cents
  • Wreath cent (1793)
  • Liberty Cap cent (1793-1796)
  • Draped Bust cent (1796-1807)
  • Classic Head cent (1804-14)
  • Coronet cent (1808-14)
  • Braided Hair cent (1839-57) Small Cents
  • Flying Eagle Cent (1856-58)
  • Indian Head Cent (1859-1909)
  • Lincoln Wheat cent (1909-58)
  • Lincoln Memorial cent (1959-)
  • See sidebar in the More Facts to Share section above for links to images of the new Lincoln cent series that will debut in 2009.

    Language arts idioms. A number of English language expressions refer to the penny. Share each of these expressions and ask student to define what the expressions mean to them. The explanations below in parentheses come from

  • penny pincher (a mean person, or a person who is very frugal)
  • penny wise, pound foolish (someone who can be very careful or mean with small amounts of money, yet wasteful and extravagant with large sums)
  • a pretty penny (if something costs a pretty penny, it is very expensive)
  • a penny for your thoughts (a way of asking someone what they are thinking about)
  • a penny saved is a penny earned (we shouldn't spend or waste money, but try to save it)
  • turn up like a bad penny (someone or something who/that shows up where they are not wanted)
  • in for a penny, in for a pound (if something is worth doing, you might as well take the chance and go the whole way, not just part-way)


    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 questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
    GRADES K - 4
    NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.K-4.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
    NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.5-8.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.9-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
    NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
    GRADES Pre-K - 2
    NM-NUM.PK-2.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-NUM.3-5.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-NUM.6-8.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-NUM.9-12.2 Understand Meanings of Operations and How They Relate to One Another

    MATHEMATICS: Data Analysis and Probability
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-DATA.3-5.3 Develop and Evaluate Inferences and Predictions That Are Based on Data
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-DATA.6-8.3 Develop and Evaluate Inferences and Predictions That Are Based on Data
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-DATA.9-12.3 Develop and Evaluate Inferences and Predictions That Are Based on Data

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.1 What Is Government?
    NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
    NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
    NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Economics
    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-EC.K-4.7 Markets and Market Prices
    NSS-EC.K-4.8 Supply and Demand
    NSS-EC.K-4.11 Money
    NSS-EC.K-4.16 Government in the Economy
    NSS-EC.K-4.17 Cost of Government
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-EC.5-8.7 Markets and Market Prices
    NSS-EC.5-8.8 Supply and Demand
    NSS-EC.5-8.11 Money
    NSS-EC.5-8.16 Government in the Economy
    NSS-EC.5-8.17 Cost of Government
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-EC.9-12.7 Markets and Market Prices
    NSS-EC.9-12.8 Supply and Demand
    NSS-EC.9-12.11 Money
    NSS-EC.9-12.16 Government in the Economy
    NSS-EC.9-12.17 Cost of Government

    GRADES K - 4
    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.5-12.5 Eras 5 - 10: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877) to Contemporary United States Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.


    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World