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.
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.
Carnival Thrills and Dollar Bills Children’s Book
Carnival Thrills and Dollar Bills is a fully illustrated book that introduces 1st – 3rd grade students to the unique features of Federal Reserve notes. The characters in the book journey through a nearby carnival, where they discover the similarities between the attractions and U.S. currency security features. Challenge students to find all the hidden objects in the book to strengthen their visual perceptiveness and observational skills. (Download the answer key.)
The free book is available in English or Spanish for you to order or download a 508-compliant version that is optimized for reading on a monitor or projecting on a screen.
"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.
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.