George Lucas Educational Foundation
Education Trends

Elementary Financial Literacy: Lesson Ideas and Resources

March 27, 2014
Photo credit: Thinkstock

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:

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?

Share This Story

  • email icon

Filed Under

  • Education Trends
  • Financial Literacy
  • Technology Integration
  • Math
  • K-2 Primary
  • 3-5 Upper Elementary

Follow Edutopia

  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • instagram icon
  • youtube icon
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use

George Lucas Educational Foundation

Edutopia is a free source of information, inspiration, and practical strategies for learning and teaching in preK-12 education. We are published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
Edutopia®, the EDU Logo™ and Lucas Education Research Logo® are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries.