w What Is Currency? Take-home page: Design Your Own Currency

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Design Your Own Currency

Teacher's Note: This activity was originally designed to use as a take-home assignment but the online version of this page can be adapted for classroom use.

Today many people prefer to pay for their purchases with a bank check or credit card rather than with dollar bills and coins.

Dollar bills and coins are in constant circulation, always changing hands. Since we don't put our names or addresses on them, we have no idea where the bills and coins in our pockets have been in the last year.

Bank checks and credit cards allow us to buy items without having actual money in hand at the moment we are making our purchase. They also allow us to make purchases through the mail or by telephone. With this system, we pay money to a bank and the bank pays the person who sold the items to us. Unlike coins and bills, checks and credit cards carry our name and the special account number the bank assigns to us. Nobody else is allowed to use them. Ask your parents to show you a check, a credit card, a bank account statement, and a credit card statement that records their transactions.

Compare a coin, bill, check, and credit card. Look for these features:

  • Date it was issued
  • Your parent's name
  • Your parent's address
  • Name of our country
  • Denomination (how much it's worth)
  • Your parent's account number
  • Name of a bank
  • Serial number
  • Expiration date (time when it runs out and has to be replaced)
  • Motto
  • Place to write a signature
  • Decoration

Most coins, bills, checks, and credit cards have some decoration. Design your own currency in the space provided.


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Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies