This year, Presidents Day – honoring George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays – falls on February 20. The national holiday is an ideal time to remind kids about the contributions of famous U.S. leaders. And what better way for them to learn presidential trivia than through the currency and coins that bear so many of those famous faces?
Here are some fun money activities for kids of all ages to try:
• Make a presidential portrait: Help your child fold a crisp, preferably new $1 (George Washington) or $5 (Abraham Lincoln) bill to create a stand-up mini portrait.
• Design your own dollar: A fun way for kids to make their own “money,” this interactive, online game lets kids design and color their own bill. They can also learn more about real currency when they’re done.
• Coin rubbings: This fun activity is ideal for younger kids:
1. First, set out a selection of dimes, nickels, pennies and quarters - especially state-issued quarters with varying reverse images.
2. Kids can cover one coin at a time with plain white paper.
3. Then, they can rub over the coins with crayons so the imprint is transferred to the paper.
• Online scavenger hunt: To help older kids (third grade and above) learn more about U.S. presidents, coins and bills, use this quiz about the first five presidents or create your own and send your child online to research answers.
Here are some good sources for trivia questions:
On coins and currency:
2. U.S. Mint
• Anatomy of a dollar bill: Challenge kids to find the following details on a $1 bill using a magnifying glass (discuss what each item signifies) :
1. Identify the portrait on the front.
2. Count the number of “1”s.
3. Find a pyramid (or triangle), three eyeballs (answer: Two on George, one in the pyramid on back), an eagle, and the words “In God we trust”, “Annuit Coeptis” and “Novus Ordo Seclorum".
4. Find the owl. (Hint: It’s really tiny, in the front, upper-right quadrant of bill).
• The price is right: Help your preteens or teens learn about the consumer price index (CPI), and how costs change over time. Print out the article “The History of What Things Cost in America” or have your child read it online. Ask your kids to then make a list of three consumer items and their prices during the time of these presidents:
1. George Washington (served 1789-1797). Have kids use the year 1800, shortly after Washington left office (closest available date on this timeline).
2. Millard Fillmore (1850-53)
3. Calvin Coolidge (1923-29)
4. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
For more fun money games and activities for kids check out our Helpful Steps for Parents activity center, the Zone.