Make Roman Relief Coins

What You Need:

  • White paper
  • Air dry clay
  • Pencil
  • Toothpicks
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Fork
  • Gold paint
  • Paint brush


What You Do:

  1. Show images of Roman coins to your child. To find them, try checking out books from the library or searching for images online.
  2. Discuss the meaning of symbolism, and together, look at symbols that are recognizable on actual coins, like laurel wreaths—meaning victory, and the olive branch—a symbol of peace. Ask your child why they think someone would want their portrait assigned to a coin.
  3. Ask your learner to come up with some symbols of their own that represent themselves, or a fictitious hero. If they want to come up with a hero, have them brainstorm what that hero would be known for, or what their special powers would be. Perhaps the hero is known for slaying dragons; then, your child might want to come up with a design that has a dragon in the background, or a sword.
  4. Have them sketch a rough draft of the image that they want to create, as well as any other symbols or ideas that they want to include on the final coin. Often, there was a face on the front of the coin and symbols on the back. Historically, both sides of the coin also contained a phrase or a name. Encourage your child to add traditional elements to their own modern-day coin.
  5. Next, give them a blob of clay about the size of an adult fist.
  6. Have them flatten the clay down into a thick pancake shape, at least 1" thick.
  7. Ask them to pat down the edges of the clay pancake, so they are flat and smooth.
  8. Give them the necessary tools to start carving a relief into their coin. Have them refer to their drawing for this portion of the project, and invite them to add details to both sides of the coin, to make it as authentic as possible.
  9. Allow the finished coin to air dry completely.
  10. Paint the coin gold, and then allow the paint to dry. Now, your child has their very own coin. And the best part: it can be colored!
  11. For a brighter gold coin, have them paint the entire thing bright yellow, allow it to dry, and then paint it gold. For a darker, tarnished-looking coin, have them allow the gold paint to dry, and then brush on black paint. Next, rub it off quickly with a towel, allowing some or most of the gold to show through.

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