Keep your kids’ minds sharp with these financial literacy lessons and games
If you suddenly find yourself at home with kids who are out of school, you may be looking for ways to keep their education going– and to keep them entertained during long days at home.
In addition to keeping your kids up to speed with traditional subjects, this is also a good opportunity to encourage them to learn about money to help them understand the value of allowances, prepare for future summer jobs and even understand the basics of taxes. After all, while financial education is on the rise in most schools, there’s no such thing as being too knowledgeable about personal finance.
The good news is that there are numerous online resources you and your kids can use to improve their financial literacy, and many of them are free. We’ve assembled a list of some resources to help kids of all grade levels learn about finance, as well as a few that expand into math and other related subjects. You may have to dig around a little to find the right coursework for your child, but there’s something here for everyone.
Financial Literacy Resources
Next Gen Personal Finance has financial arcade games kids can play (good for younger ones), some interactive quizzes (good for older kids), tons of activities in various categories, and lots more. It’s a resource designed for teachers, but much of the content is free and very useful for home schooling.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has a number of online financial literacy courses for elementary, middle school, high school and even college students. You’ll have to register as a teacher in order to access all the coursework, but registering is free, and there are lot of resources here. The Fed also has modules for adults, in case you want to brush up on your own financial literacy alongside your kids.
The High School Financial Planning Program has several online courses to help high school students learn about money. It includes six modules on topics ranging from money management and identity theft to investing and insurance.
The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy has more than 460 free courses for kids at every age level. Just search the database and find one you like. (Tip: Leave the fields blank, set the price slider to “Free” and hit Search in order to see the full library of free courses.) Note that there are also courses available here for a fee, if you’d like, but the free courses could keep your kids busy for quite a while.
A number of federal government sites feature lesson plans for students. On the U.S. Government website, for example, kids can learn about how taxes work or take a virtual field trip to a money factory. There are also courses here to learn about how the government works, if you want to mix things up a bit. The content here is developed for teachers, so this is better for home schooling than for independent study.
There’s also lesson plans available from the Treasury Department. These are lesson plans rather than independent study, but there’s a lot here, and it’s for kids of all ages. Topics include currency, how to spot counterfeits, the connections between coins and social studies, and much more. This site also connects to MyMoney.gov, which includes good financial-literacy resources for adults as well as kids.
Sticking with the governmental theme, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also has a bundle of good (and free) learning modules that teach K-12 kids about the economy, STEM-related occupations, and more. It also has games like crossword puzzles, word searches and memory puzzles, which kids can do on their own.
Even the U.S. Mint is in on the fun. Their H.I.P. Pocket Change Kids Site is full of fun activities for younger kids that they can direct themselves through. They can learn about how far money goes at the grocery store, test their counting skills, and read about all the coins minted in American history.
Biz Kid$ offers coursework and games for kids on the topics of financial literacy as well as entrepreneurism. Some of the coursework requires a fee, but there’s a lot of free content here as well, including lesson plans and games. Biz Kid$ was also a PBS show; it’s no longer on the air, but the site has lots of video clips you can view along with your kids. (Alternately, it can give them something educational to watch while you get a little work done.)
Practical Money Skills, a financial-literacy site run by Visa, has an entire section with lesson plans for students of all ages – including college students – along with interactive games to teach kids financial skills. It’s also one of the rare sites that includes lesson plans for students with special needs, with lessons on budgeting, shopping, banking, loans and more.
The FDIC’s Money Smart for Young People site has content for students of all ages, and each curriculum also has an accompanying parent guide. You can either work with your kids on the lessons, or they can do it themselves. Topics include setting goals, budgeting, investing, and even charitable giving.
Resources for Math and Other Subjects
The Khan Academy has long been recognized as a great source for entirely free online learning content, with a heavy focus on math, science and economics. They offer daily schedules along with parent resources to help keep your kids on track while schools are closed. And there’s plenty of math lessons.
Figure This! offers math challenges that families can do together. Yes, it’s math, but the challenges make it fun. You can, for example, use math to determine which windshield wiper design is the most efficient, or whether an Olympic sprinter could really outrun a car. With 80 challenges to pick from, these could keep you and your kids occupied for quite some time. The challenges were produced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
PBS runs several websites that are chock full of lesson plans, games and videos for kids of all grade levels. The resources include PBS LearningMedia, with tons of lesson plans (note: you’ll have to create a free account to get full access); the PBS Kids site, with a wide variety of games for younger kids; and the NOVA Education site, which has resources for at-home learning about STEM fields. By the way, PBS also runs an entire site, called Your Life, Your Money, to help adults learn more about finance.
Education.com has an enormous amount of games, guided lessons and lesson plans on just about every topic under the sun, all suitable for preschool through 5th-grade students. Much of it is free, but some of the content requires a subscription.
Believe it or not, this is just a sampling of the free educational content available online, so if you and your kids manage to work through all of it, there’s plenty more to be found. With a little effort, your kids can be ready to hit the ground running once regular classes are back in session, and they’ll be better prepared for managing their money, whether it’s from an allowance, part-time job or a career position. Happy learning, and stay safe!
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