A Mile of Pennies: A 5th - 6th Grade Lesson Plan
In this lesson, students use the scrapbook as a means of understanding the value of money in the early 20th century. The lesson asks students to think about the changing value of currency over time. How much more significance did a penny have to a person living in 1911 than it does to a person living today? In order to understand the concept of inflation, and how the value of money changes over time, students will explore images from the scrapbook that relate to spending and saving.
- Students will think about the ways people save their money and explain the advantages or disadvantages of each.
- Students will learn how to search and browse through a digital library collection.
- Students will practice using a primary source document in order to answer a question.
- Students will practice mathematical calculations using units (if the optional mathematics tie-in, calculating the number of pennies in a mile, is included).
One class period
Classroom Setup and Materials
- Computer/Projector (class could take place in library or computer lab, if available)
- Pencil and paper for students to record answers, and/or printed handout with questions for students to fill in
- Students begin by discussing, as a class, what the value of a penny is today.
- Working alone or in small groups, students are asked to look through the scrapbook and note at least three objects that display prices or that give them an idea of how valuable a penny was in the 1910s.
- Alternatively, students can be directed to find the relevant images on the pages listed above, and to use them to answer the following questions:
- Would 25 cents have been enough to purchase a souvenir from the New York Hippodrome when Olive Ruby Henty went to visit (p.17)?
- What was the price of chicken in the 1910s, according to the scrapbook (p. 23)?
- Choose three items that Olive Ruby Henty might have purchased at the Clark Store, and write down how much each of them cost (p. 22).
- How much did the postal card on p. 32 cost?
- Look at the penny holder on p. 38. What do you think this was for? How much money do you think a mile of pennies is worth?
In particular, students might notice the price for the souvenir booklet on p. 17, the newspaper clipping with price list on p. 22, the paper band on p. 23 ("Chicken, Price 15 Cents"), the card on p. 32 ("I've Been Saving For A Month to Buy this Postal for You, Ain't I Nice?"), and the Simmons College penny holder on p. 38.back to top