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How Money is Made: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Cori Hodges

Cori has degrees in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and has taught lower elementary.

Do you ever get money for your birthday? Do you ever wonder where that money came from and how it was made? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more!

Who Makes Our Money?

People use money every day, but we rarely take the time to really think about what goes into making the money in our wallets or the people who worked hard to make it. The U.S. Department of Treasury is the government body in charge of the production of money. It oversees two branches that produce the money: The U.S. Mint makes coins, while the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing is in charge of making paper money, or dollar bills. Now, let's explore the process of making money, from the design to the distribution.

Designing Money

The U.S. Department of Treasury hires designers who create sketches and models of paper money and coins. After the designers submit their designs, the Secretary of the Treasury chooses one to be made into money, though there may be additional changes to come to a final design.

Currency designers create the layout and artistic details of money.
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But why do we need new designs? As technology improves, it becomes easier for people to make their own fake money. This is called counterfeiting, which is illegal. To cut down on counterfeiting, the government redesigns our money by adding new features.

The Materials

If you compare a dollar bill and a piece of computer paper, you'll notice they don't feel the same. That's because paper money is made out of a special blend of cotton and linen that makes it harder to counterfeit. The ink is also specially made by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. All paper money uses black and green ink, though some of the newer bills (in denominations of $10 and higher) also use metallic or color-shifting ink, which helps prevent counterfeiting.

Our coins are made of metal and alloy. This use of bi-metallic materials not only helps cut down on counterfeiting of coins, but it also reduces the cost of making coins. If a coin were made purely out of metal, it could be worth more than the face value. This might lead people to melt the coins and sell them as metals rather than using them as currency.

Making the Money

Paper Money

After paper money is designed, the design is sent to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to be engraved onto a plate. The single plate is then reproduced many times onto a much larger plate that can print multiple bills at once. The plate is are covered with ink and then pressed onto the paper. Each sheet of bills requires 72 hours to dry per side.

Bills are printed on large sheets and cut into individual bills after drying.
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