Students will:

  • Understand the importance of being a good citizen in a school setting
  • Identify different types of symbolism
  • Self-reflect on their personal uniqueness

Three 60-minute Sessions

Materials Needed:

  • Circular wooden discs
  • Challenge Coin Requirements sheet
  • Two sheets of paper per student
  • Drawing implements (markers, crayons, colored pencils, sharpies)
  • Student-brought picture (approximately 2.5”x3.5”), one they have permission to cut and paste
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Introductory Activity:
Create a bubble map on the board or flip chart paper and ask students to list colors which they associate with specific meanings. Write the colors and their meanings on the chart (examples: black for mourning, red for love, purple for nobility).

Create a separate bubble map on the board or flip chart paper. Ask students to share symbols they are familiar with (examples: flag, cross, mascots, advertising symbols). Draw the symbols and write their meaning on the bubble map.

Explain that symbols are used every day in a variety of ways and let students know that today’s activity will ask them to take a closer look at those symbols.

Whole Group Activity:
Display images of challenge coins (examples available via Internet search) for students to examine. Alternately, pass around a challenge coin, if available. Tell students that members of the military as well as some firefighters and police officers have challenge coins. Each coin is unique and represents the individual. The coins are sometimes given by superior officers to people who complete a challenge or do great work.

Explain that challenge coins use symbolism in many ways. Each item on the coin means something to the person who it represents. Tell students that they will be creating their own challenge coins which represent them.

Pass out the Challenge Coin Requirements sheet and review the steps with students. Give them time to think alone or with a partner about the colors, symbols, and character value words they will use on the two sides of their coin.

Individual Activity:
Have students create a draft of their challenge coin on paper. They should start by tracing the wooden disc onto their two sheets of paper. Using the colors, symbols, and words they chose earlier, they should create their own coin (being sure to leave a space on the personal side for their photo, which will be glued on the final version). Students should show both their school citizenship and their individuality through their designs.

Once they have completed their drafts, students should transfer their designs to the wooden disc. Caution students to plan and proceed carefully since every student gets only one disc.

Concluding Activity:
Have students present their coins to the class and explain why they chose their colors, symbols, and words. Create an area in the classroom or school where students may display their challenge coins.

Coin project, presentation

Extended Activity:
Teacher or students can choose a design they feel represents their school best and reach out to a local company that creates challenge coins. Using the chosen design, have the company make a class or school coin. Students can organize a fundraiser to underwrite the project, or they can sell the coins after production as a school fundraiser.