For Educators

Teaching your students about U.S. currency is a great way to meet curriculum goals for social studies, art, math, and science, using an everyday object with which kids are already familiar. To help you do just that, the Federal Reserve's Currency Education Program has created two sections with fun, engaging activities that will help students better understand the currency in their pockets. Although the current materials are best suited for students in grades 2 through 5, many of the materials and concepts are applicable to students across a number of grade levels and settings.

These sections are a "Currency Academy" interactive learning experience that your students can navigate on their own or with help; and a "For Educators" section complete with lesson plans, videos, and activities that supplement the Currency Academy and will help you bring U.S. currency to life for your students.

Explore this page to find more information and everything you need to introduce your students to U.S. currency.

illustrated bills in various denominations

U.S. Currency may also be referred to as paper money, banknotes, cash or bills.


Currency Academy


An illustration of a school building with colorful, classical architecture and a crest over the arched entrance showing a dollar-sign.

The Currency Academy is a digital learning experience created especially for a young audience. Your students will discover how currency is used in the Currency Academy, observe artistic concepts found in currency in the Art Studio, learn about how money works at the School Store, and compare elements of the natural world to the special features found on currency in the Science Lab. Use the below Currency Academy Companion Worksheet to check your students' learning comprehension with fun questions as they journey through the academy.

Download the Currency Academy Companion Worksheet and Answer Key (PDF)


"You'd Be Surprised" Videos

The "You'd Be Surprised" videos were created to help youth learn about U.S. currency in a fun, relatable manner. To help you make the most of these videos, we've created accompanying Vocabulary and Play Money lesson plans to help your students explore the words and concepts introduced in the videos. Show the videos, one of which is also included in the Currency Academy's Science Lab, and use the lesson plans and worksheets to enhance your curriculum.

You'd Be Surprised: Special Features

This animated video shows students how the special features of U.S. currency are similar to the characteristics of some cool animals, making it great for use in the classroom.

You'd Be Surprised: The Journey

This animated video will teach your students about the lifecycle of U.S. currency through the journey of monarch butterflies.


Vocabulary Lesson Plans

Use the activities below to introduce students to words in the "You'd Be Surprised" currency videos that may not be familiar to them. Each lesson plan includes the concepts taught, the purpose of the lesson plan, materials needed, step-by-step instructions, and suggestions for modifying the lesson plan for different learning levels. Accompanying worksheets are included where applicable.

Download Full Packet of Vocabulary Lesson Plans (PDF)

Download Vocabulary Lists to Use With Below Lesson Plans (PDF)


An illustrated bill with Ben Franklin holding a snow ball and wearing a winter cap.

Snowball Words

Students will work with their peers and move around the room to match vocabulary words to their definitions.

Download Vocabulary Lesson Plan: Snowball Words (PDF)

An illustrated bill with Ben Franklin holding a pencil and writing on a piece of paper.

A Super Short Story

Students will work in small groups to create a super short story using vocabulary words from the videos.

Download Vocabulary Lesson Plan: A Super Short Story (PDF)

An illustrated bill with a book and a pencil in front of it.

Creating a Vocabulary Booklet

Students will make a vocabulary booklet of the new words they will learn in the videos.

Download Vocabulary Lesson Plan: Creating a Vocabulary Booklet (PDF)

An illustrated bill with an open book in front of it.

Working with Words

Students will research a vocabulary word from the videos to find out its part of speech, definition, how to use it in a sentence, synonyms, and antonyms. They will also draw a picture or cartoon of the word.

Download Vocabulary Lesson Plan: Working with Words (PDF)

An illustrated bill showing Benjamin Franklin reaching out from the bill to sort cards on a billboard.

Matching Words and Definitions

Students will work in small teams to match vocabulary words to their definitions using cards.

Download Vocabulary Lesson Plan: Matching Words and Definitions (PDF)


Play Money Lesson Plans

Use the activities below to introduce students to important currency concepts. Each lesson plan includes the concepts taught, the purpose of the lesson plan, materials needed, step-by-step instructions, and suggestions for modifying the lesson plan for different learning levels. Any accompanying worksheets are included.

Download Full Packet of Play Money Lesson Plans (PDF)

Download Play Money to Use with Below Lesson Plans (PDF)


An illustrated bill with a graph of play money on a billboard in front.

Create a Money Graph

Students will learn about and identify different denominations of currency by creating and interpreting a bar graph.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Create a Money Graph (PDF)

An illustrated bill with Ben Franklin holding a pencil and writing on a piece of paper.

Money Books

Students will develop their writing skills by writing a narrative or opinion piece about currency.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Money Books (PDF)

An illustrated bill with a shopping cart full of boxes in front of it.

Going Shopping

Students will learn how to add currency and make change by going shopping in groups.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Going Shopping (PDF)

An illustrated bill with Ben Franklin looking throw a telescope.

Money Scavenger Hunt

Students will go on a scavenger hunt to find and count hidden play money.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Money Scavenger Hunt (PDF)

An illustrated bill with Ben Franklin holding a bill in one hand and a shopping bag in the other.

Shopping Spree

Using a bit of creativity and imagination, students will make spending decisions and practice counting by deciding what they will "buy" with $100.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Shopping Spree (PDF)

An illustrated bill with a treasure chest in front of it.

Money Management

Create a positive form of behavioral management for the classroom by giving students the opportunity to decide how they want to spend money they earn for good behavior.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Money Management (PDF)

An illutrated bill with a restaurant bell and a restaurant check in front of it.

Restaurant Bills

Students will mimic a real-life use of currency and practice counting by "paying" for a restaurant bill with play money.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Restaurant Bills (PDF)

An illustrated bill with Ben Franklin reaching out and rolling two dice.

Roll to $100

Students will use dice to practice adding, counting, and changing money.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Roll to $100 (PDF)

An illustrated bill with Ben Franklin playing a board game.

Money Game

Students will work with a partner to learn the different ways currency can be used, adding and subtracting money as it is spent or saved.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Money Game (PDF)

An illustated bill with a billboard showing a venn diagram in front of it.

Money Venn Diagram

Students will compare and contrast different denominations by creating a Venn diagram about currency features.

Download Play Money Lesson Plan: Money Venn Diagram (PDF)


For more great resources on U.S. currency, explore the Federal Reserve's Education Link.