During a ten year initiative stretching from ‘99-’08, the U.S. Mints in both Denver and Philadelphia produced new limited edition quarters, one for each of the 50 states. One side of these quarters looks pretty normal, with our 1st president George Washington featured prominently, but it’s the reverse side that we’re focused on today. The backs of these beautiful quarters feature special state specific images, state nicknames, and the year in which each state joined the union.
The State Quarter Geography Activity is a fun way to learn about U.S. geography and history at the same time, with a side order of early math skills as an added bonus!
What You’ll Need
- state quarters
- a variety of U.S. maps
- State Quarter Collector’s Map (optional)
This State Quarter Geography Activity isn’t a complicated one — simply find as many state quarters as possible and you’re on your way! The seek-and-find adventure portion of the activity is absolutely part of the fun, so let your child rifle through the loose change you receive at the convenience store or after you’re done grocery shopping.
Since the two U.S. Mints put a bow on the state quarter project 5 years ago (they are now in the midst of a stunning National Park quarter collection) all 50 different state quarters should be relatively easy to find despite each quarter having been minted for only about 10 weeks! You might consider getting a running start on this activity by visiting your local bank to trade a few dollar bills (or ‘boring’ old quarters) for state quarters.
Ways To Play and Learn
There’s a lot you can do within this idea, and each state quarter geography micro-activity will teach your child a little bit more about the geography and history of the United States.
First, try to collect the quarters of the states that made up the original 13 Colonies, then move on to collecting the quarters of the 15 (eventual) states/parts of states that were included in the land mass bought from France in the Louisiana Purchase. Now, how about the states that border Canada? The states east of the Mississippi? Next, find all the quarters that feature animals (and talk about why those animals best represent those states).
If your kiddo is a sports fan, seek and find the states that have MLS clubs or the ones with an NFL team or two in them (hello, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, California and more!).
There is no limit to the ways you can slice and dice this state quarter geography activity, and no matter how you play it, your child will be learning about the geography and history of the United States while having fun.
Take a look at all of the state quarters and the years in which they were made on the U.S. Mint’s official State Quarters Program website. And download the U.S. Mint’s comprehensive State Quarters Program Packet to dive a little bit deeper into the history of the states as well as the origin and importance of the images on each state quarter.
I promised some basic math learning too, so use this state quarter geography activity to begin talking about money and the value of coins: pennies, nickels, dimes, and of course the U.S. State Quarters you’re searching for!