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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Games to Teach Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy Month is April -- just around the corner -- and it's never too early to prepare. Personally, I believe this is a great opportunity to use games in an intentional way to teach students financial literacy skills. Games can be used as a "hook" or anchor activity, as well an instructional activity that is revisited throughout a unit of instruction. A game can help scaffold the learning of important content as well as providing context for application of content. If you really trust the design of the game, it can also be an excellent assessment tool!

Fellow Edutopia member Brian Page (on Twitter @FinEdChat) has long been an advocate for financial literacy education and innovative ways for students to engage in it. He was the 2011 Milken National Educator recipient in Ohio, and co-creator of an EIFLE award-winning financial education game of the year, Awesome Island Game. He's also a Money magazine "Money Hero". Brian has a huge database of games that can help teach financial literacy skills to students of all ages. In addition, each game is aligned to commonly accepted personal finance national standards. Although the database is extensive, Brian has selected his favorite games and explained how they might be used intentionally in classroom instruction.

Bite Club

In Bite Club, players manage a "day club" for vampires. Players experience the familiar tension between servicing debt, spending money and saving for the future. By featuring vampires, who live forever, the game highlights the impact of long-term savings over a 45-year span in a 15-round game. The game aims to instill three learning objectives:

  1. Save for retirement
  2. Pay down debt
  3. Manage current consumption

Brian says, "I prefer Bite Club as a game-based learning day alternative, and as an anchor activity. It is clearly the online game of choice of my female students. I recommend the game for high school age students."

Gen i Revolution

Gen i Revolution was developed for middle school and high school students and is managed by the Council for Economic Education. The game gives students a chance to compete against each other while learning important personal finance skills. It includes fifteen financial rescue missions.

"I believe Gen i Revolution is best for middle school students," Brian tells us. "The game is accompanied with 21 lessons that correlate with each mission. The lessons add value, but they are not necessary for an engaging and exciting learning experience."

Financial Football

Financial Football is a fast-paced, interactive game that engages students while teaching them money management skills. Teams compete by answering financial questions to earn yardage and score touchdowns. The questions are primarily scenario-based, which is appropriate for the coursework. There are three levels: Rookie (ages 11-14), Pro (ages 14-18), and Hall of Fame (ages 18+). The various levels make it easy to differentiate and provide an avenue for participation by elementary, middle and high school students. Financial Football also has an iPad and an iPhone application.

Brian says, "I prefer to use Financial Football in a tournament format. I provide the game as an optional anchor activity as well. For educators who want correlating lessons, Practical Money Skills provides them here."

In addition to these great games, you can see a list of Brian's 30 favorite game- and scenario-based learning programs. If you are still unconvinced about using games for financial literacy instruction, or if you need research and data to convince stakeholders, Brian recommends reading D2D's research report on how casual financial literacy video games can lead to improvements in financial capability.

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