Literature Connection:

The Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis

Mathematical Strand:



Students will recognize the pattern established year after year with the special coin dated appropriately

Grade level:


Lesson created by:

Marla Schmidt, Lee Elementary School, Manhattan, KS

Lesson Description:


  • The story Are Your Arms a Hundred Years Old? by Sharon Bell Mathis. Also called The Hundred Penny Box, paper, pencil and pennies dated 1990-2001.

1. Launch the lesson---Engage. Read the story "Are Your Arms a Hundred Years Old?" Discuss the idea of placing a penny in a special box for each year of a persons' life. Discuss how Aunt Dew recalls specific events that took place in her life when a certain year is mentioned. Discuss what made the box itself so special. Share ideas of why the aunt enjoyed talking to her great-great nephew. What was the bond that connected them? How was Aunt Dew able to recall so many events in her life?

2. Pass out a blank sheet of paper to each student. Have the students write the year they were born on the top line on the left hand side of the paper. Below that year, add the following year, and each successive year to the present; one year per line. Then have the students select a penny with their birth year and attach it to the paper next to the date. Scotch tape the back of the coin to hold it in place. Next, have the students list a special event or happening for them next to the coin. Continue placing coins with the appropriate year on the paper next to the date. Add the special event for each year. Continue down the page with one coin and one event for each year.

3. Have the students share individually. Ask them to select the year that they feel was most special to them and tell why. This activity may need assistance from parents and would work well as a homework extension.

4. As an added enhancement, you might want to ask students to also list important events that happened in the world for each year. It would connect nicely to history or geography lessons.

5. Have students decorate a box that would be meaningful to them. It would be a holding box for special things that convey an important milestone in their lives.

6. Research and discuss coin collecting. Invite a guest speaker in to share the background information for starting a collection. Connect to patterning.

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Copyright 2001 S.Ma.R.T.Books and Kansas State University