Inspired by “These Chihuahuas are not dogs,” that I wrote in 2018, I challenged teachers to dig through a junk box of old banknotes and use them as a teaching tool. Since we are now practicing social distancing, that is not an option.
An option would be to talk to a dealer and ask if they could help. Go to the American Numismatic Association’s dealers directory at coin-dealer-directory.money.org and find one near by. Call them and ask if they can help you and your students.
Most dealers have junk boxes. Junk boxes are coins and currency that are not worth the time and expense to handle. Ask the dealer if a student sent a self-addressed and stamped envelope with $1.00 would the dealer send the student something from the junk box. Ask the dealer to send a mix of items to different students like United States coins older than the students, world coins, currency, and a few tokens.
Once the arrangements are complete, instruct the students to write a friendly letter (gets them used to communicating in full sentences without emojis), enclose a $1.00 bill and a self-addressed and stamped envelope, and mail it to the dealer. When they receive their numismatic items, have each research the history of the era of when the coin, currency, or token was issued.
Rather than picking a topic, it is a fun way to have the students select a topic and make history come to life.
If your online classroom uses technology like Zoom, then have each student to a presentation to the class. If the class is using forums or written means only, let them write a paper and submit it for a grade.
Like my token trip to Spain and Venezuela, it will give the students something tangible to use as part of their learning experience.