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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

My daughter is in elementary school. She hates math, but she loves to count her own money! I have used her allowance to help bring basic mathematics alive, including some of the lessons created by the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability exhibited on the website Money As You Grow. These are 20 essential, age-appropriate financial lessons -- with corresponding activities -- written explicitly for parents. At a time when parents are most involved with their children's lives, this is an ideal resource to engage them about teaching money management skills at home.

Schools are beginning to partner with organizations and provide matched savings programs, which enlist donors to make contributions to low-income children's college accounts. My dream would be to see these opportunities available for every student. I doubt that matched savings programs in our elementary schools are scalable in the immediate future, but they may be in the years that lie ahead. Research has found that such opportunities lead to improvements in knowledge and attitudes toward money.

However, schools don't need a matched savings program partner to integrate financial literacy skills. As you will read below, there are a number of ways that financial literacy can be integrated into English and mathematics.

My Classroom Economy

My Classroom Economy enables any educator to teach children financial responsibility through fun, experiential learning. The program is designed to overlay -- not interrupt -- a classroom curriculum, and connects to many of the Common Core Standards. It is customized by grade level.

The program experience reinforces the connection between work ethic and money. Students are paid in the simulation for completing classroom jobs. I believe it is easier to teach students to be thoughtful with money when they have to earn it.

The Secret Millionaires Club

The Secret Millionaires Club (SMC Kids) is an animated series that features Warren Buffett as a mentor to a group of entrepreneurial kids whose adventures lead them to encounter financial and business problems to solve. The program teaches the basics of good financial decision-making and some of the basic lessons for starting a business.

The animated series has 26 online webisodes, short cartoons that can serve as excellent hooks for a number of financial literacy topics. Among the games available on the site, Counting Money is perfect for reinforcing math skills, and a good warm-up to using tangible play money for further activities.

Money As You Learn

Money As You Learn, developed by the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, provides teachers with texts, lessons and tasks that connect the Common Core to real-life applications while also equipping students with the knowledge needed to make smart financial decisions. One of my favorite lessons teaches delayed gratification and multiplication. Here is the prompt:

You won first place at your school Science Fair! You have two choices for the prize:
Option 1: You can take $20 home with you today.
Option 2: Take $2 a day for the next 15 days.
Which option earns more money? How much more? Which option will you choose? Explain why.

A Few More Resources

The additional K-12 resources and national financial literacy standards that I originally mentioned in my 2011 post Financial Literacy for High School Students are still very good. I have also collected hundreds of resources in my LiveBinder and provided detailed information about my 30 favorite financial education games in a 2013 post by fellow blogger Andrew Miller.

What resources do you use with elementary-age students to teach financial literacy?

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Financial Literacy for Grades K-12
It's never too late to teach financial literacy, no matter what the grade level.

Comments (8)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Taldrk Nsom's picture
Taldrk Nsom
Super Charter School

I have used Professor Dheeriya's Finance for Kidz series. What is good about that series are the exercises at the back of each book and they reinforce the concepts.

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

I know a lot of educators struggle to fit financial literacy in the curriculum. Most of the time, whatever's in the Common Core or your state's standards dictate what gets put in the lesson plans. Before you axe the idea of teaching financial literacy, check out the research ( http://www.edutopia.org/stw-financial-literacy-research:

Financial literacy allows individuals to make educated financial choices, discuss financial issues, and plan for the future; for instance, save money to pay for college, buy a home, or pay for unforeseen adverse events. In addition to promoting long-term well-being, financial literacy can help protect against predatory practices. When implemented well, financial education can increase savings behavior, reduce maxed-out credit cards, and increase timely debt payments (Danes, Huddleston-Casas, and Boyce 1999; Bernheim, Garrett, and Maki 1997; Gutter, Copur, and Garrison 2010).

Also, see if you can find easy ways to integrate teaching financial literacy in what you're already doing. Many of these tips and resources can complement math and English subjects well.

Angela's picture
Angela
Instructional Aide/ Substitute Teacher from Inglewood, California

Thank you for the ideas and resources. It is a challenge to find a meaningful lesson that also covers state standards. Students loooove to play with money (real and fake). These ideas do cover many different subjects. Entertaining ideas through which they can learn. Great material!

Keadle's picture
Keadle
2nd grade, Georgia

Loved the Secret Millionaires Club webisodes. I am not only going to use them for lessons dealing with money, etc but also for good character lessons. Thanks for sharing.

Becky's picture
Becky
First Grade Teacher

My 5th grade son is participating in a mini economy unit this year. He talks about it all the time. The students have to pay rent on their desk until they have enough money to purchase it. Each student has a job to complete and they get a paycheck at the end of the month. They also have to pay fines for incomplete work or demonstrating undesired behaviors. It's great seeing him excited about learning. It never occurred to me that I could modify this activity for first grade until I read your blog. My students always seem to struggle with counting money.

I plan on looking into all the resources you suggested. Thank you for writing this blog and sharing valuable ideas with educators and parents.

Jonesy67's picture
Jonesy67
First grade teacher from Waynesville, MO

We are getting ready to reteach money before we assess. Our first quarter assessment was just to identify coins and their values. This quarter we assess the counting of groups of coins. It is so difficult finding new ways to teach this concept. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful resources. I look forward to using them and helping student make real life connections to counting coins and the value of money.

Brian Page's picture
Brian Page
High School Personal Finance and AP Economics Teacher
Blogger 2014

Thank you all for the kind words, happy to help.

Brian

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