Last updated: February 26, 2015
Money Money Money
- Grade Level:
- Fourth Grade-Fifth Grade
- Colonial History, Economics, History, Mathematics, Military and Wartime History, Revolutionary War, Social Studies
- 20-25 minutes
- Group Size:
- Up to 24
- National/State Standards:
- NYS Content:
Gr. 4: Colonial/Rev Per.; Rev War in NYS
Gr. 5: US Hist
Gr. 7: Un. 2, Sec. 2, Con. A; Un. 3, Sec. 1 A,B; Sec. 4 A,C; Sec. 5 A
Gr. 4: 2 A,B; 3 B; 4 A,E
Gr. 5,7: Era 2 St. 3B; Era 3 St. 1A,C; 2A,B; St. 3A
- Battle of Saratoga, Battles of Saratoga, Saratoga Battlefield, Revolutionary War, American Revolution, military history, history, social studies, geography, mathematics, Economics
OverviewThe monetary system in America at the time of the Revolutionary War was somewhat rocky. Many colonies, and eventually states, printed their own paper money, and one colony might not accept the money of another. A stable system of currency was needed, preferably one based in silver or gold. The British system was the default one used, and while stable, it is a little confusing for modern understanding.
- describe the basic monetary system in use in American leading up to, and to a degree during, the Revolutionary War
- solve simple math problems using this system
Money in early America was complicated. As British colonies, we used British currency, both paper and coins. Yet the colonies also printed their own paper money, with some colonies not necessarily accepting money from other colonies. Using a unified standard, the British system, made economic sense.
With the American Revolution, the new states continued their practice of printing their own money, and as before, there was a certain lack of equity between them. British money was still being used; states often printed their currency with British monetary equivalent amounts right on the bills.
Soon, the US had to create its own money, which it did: the Continental dollar. But that quickly became a huge issue, as printing more and more led to inflation. Some Spanish money was used by people to get around that issue, and of course people fell back on using the tried-and-true British system.
MaterialsDownloadable PDF lesson materials:
Introduce the lesson by asking students what their favorite soft drink may be, and how much it costs. Ask if they were to pay for one with a $5 bill here in New York, would it be accepted as payment; how about in New Jersey, Massachusetts, or even Georgia? Of course it would.
Now ask how they'd feel if they tried buying that soft drink in New Jersey or Pennsylvania but were told their $5 bill was not accepted.
Explain that the system of currency in early America was similar to that: different colonies, and eventually states, printed their own money and didn't necessarily accept money from other colonies/states, or only did at a reduced rate of exchange. Before the Revolution, and to a degree after, America used the British system of currency.
Read over the lesson worksheet with the students, then do a few of the questions with them, so they understand the idea of computing the different amounts of money.
Downloadable PDF available.answer key
This activity is only indirectly related to the park, but it describes the system of money used by the British army here, and originally by the American forces.
Word problems draw a connection to these soldiers.
Additional ResourcesDownloadable PDF document:
Student Research Packet
VocabularyCURRENCY --system of money
Additional terms defined within the activity: