Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The State Quarters Games

When I was a kid, I had a penny and nickel collection. I had a lot of fun looking for coins with dates to fill in the missing slots in my coin collection book. 

Then I got older and needed every nickel and dime to pay for grad school. I didn't pay attention to any coins except how they paid for my tuition, room, food, and books.

Fast forward to working, starting a family, and other hobbies. Coin collecting didn't fit in my schedule.
I didn't totally ignore our currency. I remember hearing about the state quarters, but figured that was a clever gimmick to get a lot of quarters out of circulation, and I just wasn't interested. 

However, now I've had a change of mind. It occurred to me that the state quarters would be a great way for Desert Boy to learn some geography. So we sorted through our change bowl and pulled out the state quarters.
 Oh my goodness, that writing and those images on the quarters sure are small! We pulled out a magnifying glass to get a better look.

 Of course Desert Girl wanted in on the action. Her first job was to sort the eagle quarters from all the other quarters. She did a fine job of that.

Then Desert Boy started looking at the quarters and finding where they belonged. We used our game board from Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego (a wonderful thrift store find at $1!), but any large USA map would do.

 After we had gone through our change bowl, we found that we had quarters for 24 states.

I looked up some information about the state quarters and found it fascinating. The U.S. Mint issued the 50 state quarters from 1999 to 2008, with five a year. They made varying numbers of quarters, from 416,000 for Oklahoma up to 1.59 million for Virginia. The U.S. Treasury was against the project, citing the "Disneyfication" of the currency. But it's estimated that nearly half of U.S. citizens collected the quarters, with $3 billion made in profit, due to coins taken out of circulation (Wikipedia).

The quarters were issued in the order that the states ratified the constitution, and you can see illustrations of them all on Wikipedia.

As we were going through the quarters, I noted one from Puerto Rico. What? That's not a state! It turns out that after the 50 states, quarters were issued for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories: Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands. We don't even think about the territories much, so these quarters (which were issued in relatively small numbers) are a little reminder of where U.S. money is going (and perhaps where you should plan a vacation if you don't want to get a passport?).

We also found some quarters with places like Mount Hood, Chickisaw, Gettysburg, and my favorite, Great Basin. These are part of the America the Beautiful quarters, which started in 2010 and issues five quarters a year, one of a beautiful place (often a national park) in each state or territory.

You can find out more about all these programs, plus access curriculums at the U.S. Mint website.

In the meantime, we raided a piggybank and found even more state quarters, so we're now up to 45. Desert Boy can't wait to find the Texas quarter. And he knows where on the map it goes.

We like to play different games with the state quarters.

1. Race to put five quarters on the map. (2 to 10 players) Each player gets five quarters, and then when the time starts, puts the quarters on the correct state as fast as possible. First player wins.

2. Locate the state in order of joining the U.S. (one or multiple players, one person to read the order).  Using information from the Wikipedia website, have the player(s) find the states in the order they ratified the Constitution, picking up the quarters as they find them. Do you know which was first? (Hint: this state quarter has Caesar Rodney on it.)

3. Locate the states in alphabetical order. (one or multiple players, one person to read the order).
Using information from the U.S. Mint website, have the player(s) find the states in alphabetical order, picking up the quarters as they find them.

4. Find how many state quarters have horses on them. Or airplanes. Or ships. Or flowers. Or birds. Or words in other languages. Or people. Or outlines of states. Or their state nicknames. Or their state mottoes. This is a great game to really look at the different quarter designs and study them.

5. Pick your favorite quarter design and explain why you like it! Everyone is a winner in this game!

If you'd like to play some more games, the U.S. Mint has a game page!

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