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My Challenge to You

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School Foundational, Art, Veterans Day

One Class Session

Students will:

  • explain the history and purpose of a challenge coin
  • identify the symbolism on various coins
  • create their own coin that represents who they are and what they believe

Medal of Honor Focus: Any Recipient with a challenge coin (Internet Search)

Sample images available on internet:
John Baca:        Military Symbols/Scripture
Leroy Petry:       Military Symbols/Mottos
Bruce Crandall:  Military Symbols/Personal Call Sign
Jim Fleming:      Military Symbols /Air Force Medal/Motto
Desmond Doss: Military Symbols/Scripture/Motto

Note to Teacher:
Many units and departments of the military, police, fire, and first responder community make personal and unit challenge coins to present to people as they travel and interact with the public. A coin given to an individual is usually a sign of respect, in appreciation for service, a personal challenge (charge) from the giver to the receiver, or a token to remember those who have served. (Note that as students are searching the history of challenge coins, they may discover a reference to these coins being used in an adult beverage activity. This use came about in the early 1990s but was not the intended purpose of the coins.)

Introductory Activity:
Teacher will have students search the history of challenge coins as a class or individually. Students should search challenge coins of any kind from service branches and from Medal of Honor Recipients. As they search, they should write down the names of certain groups or individuals they found and what symbols, sayings, or other information they discovered. The coins of the individuals named above are unique and easily available via Google images.

Whole Group Activity:
After completing their search, students will send the teacher links of interesting coins they found. Discuss as a class what they thought was interesting and what they think the symbols mean. Be sure to address why certain mottos, symbols, or sayings may have been important to that person or why he decided to put them on his coin.

Individual Activity:
Have students create their own challenge coin on an 8”-10” diameter piece of cardstock. Have them design the front and back. It is a good idea to have them sketch their design on a piece of paper before they begin working on the cardstock. Remind them that this coin represents them and what they believe or represent. They can take into account personal beliefs, mottos, athletics, family history, experiences, religion, academics, hobbies, school spirit, nationality, language, quotes, future goals, and so on.

Concluding Activity:
Students will be asked to share their coins. The teacher can decide whether they share in small groups, a gallery walk, or a whole class presentation. Coins can be displayed around the room or other venues.

Challenge coin presentation


Internet images of challenge coins, art supplies, Medal of Honor Recipient Living History video

Extended Activity:
Ask students to watch the Living History video for the Medal of Honor Recipient whose challenge coin they researched and make connections between the coin and the Recipient’s story.


A10 - 2