Lemon Juice Coin Polishing

Easy, fun, and inexpensive! What more can you ask for in a summer activity for your classroom? Lemon coin polishing is a fan favorite for many early childhood centers. Younger children can work on their fine motor skills, while older students can participate in inquiry based discussions about the power of acids. All ages will appreciate the fresh, citrus smell during this sensory immersive lesson!!

WARNING: coins can be considered to be choking hazards. Never leave young children unattended with coins. Always supervise children under the age of 6 with small parts.

  • Gather an assortment of coins. This activity can be done in small groups or as a supervised learning center.

  • For younger children discuss the differences in color, shape, and size between pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. For older children, discuss how many cents each is worth. Which coins are the brightest? The dullest? Collect white rags, q-tips, old tooth bruhses, washcloths, or pieces of old fabric like a t-shirt or felt.

  • Give children one coin to start, placing the coins on a tray or plate to contain juice. Take pictures of the coins “before”. What will the lemon juice do to the coins? Will it change? Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a small bowl or cup. Drop a few drops of juice onto the children’s’ coins, or allow them to use their tools to dip, and let the juice sit for 15 minutes or more.

  • Children can then work to polish the coins using paper towel, q-tips, rags, felt, or old cloth. Take pictures of the “after” results. Compare and discuss. Bonus experiment: soak a coin overnight in lemon juice, recording before and after results.

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