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Economics

How to Blend Learning with Play for a Kid-friendly Summer

summer learningWith summer fast approaching all over the Northern Hemisphere, kids are eager for time away from teachers, textbooks, and To-do lists. In Ireland, Italy, Greece, Russia, and other Eurasian nations, summer vacation lasts about three months. In Australia, Britain, The Netherlands, Canada, and Germany, it’s six to eight weeks. American students get roughly ten weeks.

While kids celebrate, teachers and parents worry students will lose their academic edge. It turns out that concern is valid. Statistics say over the summer, kids lose over two months of math skills, two months of reading skills, and one month of overall learning. Efforts to prevent summer learning loss propel often-unpopular year-round school initiatives and all manner of summer school and summer camps that focus on cerebral topics.

Worry no more. The cure is much simpler: Disguise learning as play. Using the websites below, kids will think they’re playing games while actually engaging in the leading [mostly] free games and simulations in the education field.

A note: some must be downloaded and a few purchased, so the link provided might take you to a website that provides access rather than play.

General

Here are two gamified options that can be tweaked to address any topic:

  • Digital Breakouts — Players of all ages use teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of challenging puzzles that ultimately enable them to achieve a goal. Digital Breakouts are an update to the traditional and popular webquests that have students explore the web as they gather content in a particular field — history, math, literacy, or others. A great collection of free, ready-made digital breakouts can be found over at Tom’s Digital Breakouts. These don’t have to be played online; for a fee, students can play unplugged.
  • Flash cards — apps like the free Brainscape provide topical flash cards kids can memorize in between the rest of summer stuff. You might even provide badges for the lists students finish.

Financial Literacy

Summer is a great time to learn topics that require dedicated periods of time — like a financial literacy program. These are important for high schoolers, but often not required for graduation. That means many students transition to that almost-adult point in their life where they need to understand credit cards, bank accounts, paying bills, and other financial concepts but have no real knowledge of how these work.

Here are a few sites that gamify financial literacy topics and can be completed over the summer:

  • Banzai – online free comprehensive financial literacy program
  • You are here – kids learn to be smart consumers

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Categories: Economics, Games/Simulations, History, Math, Problem solving, Science, Social media, Websites | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

April is Financial Literacy Month–Try these Resources

coinsWhen students graduate from high school, a majority enter the working world where they are expected to balance budgets, pay bills, and submit rent and car payments on time. All of these expenses must be paid from whatever money they get from the job(s) they find after graduation. The world expects them to pay these critical bills before eating out, buying clothes, or entertaining themselves.

That’s not as easy as it sounds. Most new jobholders never had to think about costs vs. revenue, instead relied on parents to keep a roof over their head, heat and AC turned on, and gas in the car (and a car in the driveway). Needless to say, paying these essential bills may be daunting, even confusing.

The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad news is it’s not mandatory.

Last year, I published a list of eight great financial literacy sites for grades 3-12. Now, just in time for April’s Financial Literacy Month, the business world has released an impressive list of additional resources to help teens see through the murkiness of financial independence. During April, give students at least a few hours to visit one or more of these excellent sites:

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Categories: Economics | Tags: , | Leave a comment

8 Websites For Financial Literacy Month

balanceI published this about a year and a half ago, but with April’s focus on financial literacy, it’s time to repost.

When kids read that America’s $18 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their future personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.

If your school doesn’t teach a course about personal economics, there are many online sites that address the topic as mini-lessons. Some are narrative; others games. Here are eight I like. See if one suits you:

Banzai

Banzai is a personal finance curriculum that teaches high school and middle school students how to prioritize spending decisions through real-life scenarios and choose-your-own adventure (kind of) role playing. Students start the course with a pre-test to determine a baseline for their financial literacy. They then engage in 32 life-based interactive scenarios covering everything from balancing a budget to adjusting for unexpected bills like car trouble or health problems. Once they’ve completed these exercises, they pretend that they have just graduated from high school, have a job, and must save $2,000 to start college. They are constantly tempted to mis-spend their limited income and then must face the consequences of those actions, basing decisions on what they learned in the 32 scenarios. Along the way, students juggle rent, gas, groceries, taxes, car payments, and life’s ever-present emergencies. At the end, they take a post-test to measure improvement in their financial literacy.

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Categories: Economics | Tags: , | Leave a comment

8 Websites to Teach Financial Literacy

balanceWhen kids read that America’s $18 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their future personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.

If your school doesn’t teach a course about personal economics, there are many online sites that address the topic as mini-lessons. Some are narrative; others games. Here are eight I like. See if one suits you:

Banzai

Banzai is a personal finance curriculum that teaches high school and middle school students how to prioritize spending decisions through real-life scenarios and choose-your-own adventure (kind of) role playing. Students start the course with a pre-test to determine a baseline for their financial literacy. They then engage in 32 life-based interactive scenarios covering everything from balancing a budget to adjusting for unexpected bills like car trouble or health problems. Once they’ve completed these exercises, they pretend that they have just graduated from high school, have a job, and must save $2,000 to start college. They are constantly tempted to mis-spend their limited income and then must face the consequences of those actions, basing decisions on what they learned in the 32 scenarios. Along the way, students juggle rent, gas, groceries, taxes, car payments, and life’s ever-present emergencies. At the end, they take a post-test to measure improvement in their financial literacy.

The program is free, takes about eight hours (depending upon the student), and can include printed materials as well as digital.

Rich Kid, Smart Kid

Rich Kid Smart Kid is a collection of four games where three children–Ima, Jesse, and Reno–struggle with real-life scenarios such as running an ice cream stand, raising money for a personal goal, the importance of allocating earned money to varied needs, (such as charity, investments, and savings), and  the difference between good debt and bad debt. Games are leveled for age groups from Kindergarten to high school. They include thorough lesson plans, learning objectives, classroom activities, and discussion questions, as well as companion websites with more resources.

The program is free, online, and can be completed in four sessions–one for each game. There are also add-on low-tech options like board games.

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Categories: Economics | Tags: | 8 Comments

Teach Financial Literacy with Banzai

banzai1When kids read that America’s $18 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their own personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.

Banzai is a personal finance curriculum that teaches high school and middle school students how to prioritize spending decisions through real-life scenarios and choose-your-own adventure (kind of) role playing. Students start the course with a pre-test to determine a baseline for their financial literacy. They then engage in 32 life-based interactive scenarios covering everything from balancing a budget to adjusting for unexpected bills like car trouble or health problems. Once they’ve completed these exercises, they are dropped into a scenario where they have just graduated from high school, have a job, and must save $2,000 to start college. They are constantly tempted to mis-spend their income and then face the consequences of those actions, basing their decisions on what they learned in the 32 scenarios. Along the way, students learn to handle rent, gas, groceries, taxes, car payments, and life’s ever-present emergencies. When they finish, they take a post-test to measure improvement in their financial literacy.

Teachers register as many classes as necessary. Their dashboard lists all students in each class and a summary of which activities they have finished. Student work is graded by the website and updated on the teacher dashboard.

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Categories: 8th grade, Economics, High School, Reviews | Tags: , | 2 Comments

6 Sites + 12 + 6 About Coin Counting

Second graders (sometimes first graders) learn about money. The only way to really ‘get it’ is repetition. Here’s a list of websites to provide redundancy for each type of learner:

  1. Coin Counting
  2. Counting Money
  3. Money—counting
  4. Piggy Bank
  5. H.I.P. Pocket Change
  6. Cash Out

For a longer list that includes concepts like ‘economics’, try these:

Coins and Counting Money

  1. Brain Pop Learn about Money
  2. Cashtivity
  3. Coin games—from US Mint
  4. Count Money
  5. Face on money
  6. Face on money–from Lunapic; lots of options
  7. Make change
  8. Money—counting
  9. Moneyville
  10. Money Flashcards–APlus Math
  11. Mr. Bouncy’s Money collection–lots of websites
  12. US Mint virtual tour (a slideshow)

Economics–for youngers

  1. Brain Pop Learn about Money
  2. Coffee Shop Game
  3. Rich Kid Smart Kid
  4. Spent–living at minimum wage: the game
  5. Three Jars–kids learn to use money wisely
  6. Tykoon Kid–earning with a purpose

Do you have any to add to this list? These are mostly for youngers–I’d love some for older age groups. (more…)

Categories: 1st, 2nd, Economics, Reviews, Websites | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

24 Economics Websites for Middle School

coinsWide variety from formative to summative, from quizzes to games. See what works for you:

  1. 60-seconds Adventures in Economics–videos from Open University
  2. Basic Economic Terms
  3. Basic Economics Jumbled
  4. Be Your Own Boss
  5. BrainPop—money movie
  6. Business and Profit Millionaire Game
  7. Coffeeshop Game
  8. Economic Concepts
  9. Economics in Plain English–from Atlantic Monthly–videos
  10. Economic Systems
  11. Economic Terms
  12. Economic Terms Mini-Quizeconomics
  13. Economics Flashcards
  14. Economics Flashcards
  15. Economy Terms
  16. Hands on Banking for Kids
  17. It’s My Life:PBS Kids – Click on Money
  18. Lemonade Stand
  19. Making Money
  20. NASDAQ
  21. New York Stock Exchange
  22. Stock Market Game
  23. US Economy
  24. You are here—sim of the consumer world

(more…)

Categories: 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, Economics | Tags: | Leave a comment

3rd Grade Websites on Economics

economicsEconomics is an authentic topic that can be intimidating if not presented correctly. Here are 4 websites that do a good job of addressing this topic in 3rd grade terms.

  1. BrainPop—a basic introduction to money, in the user-friendly BrainPop way
  2. Coffeeshop Game–students learn the economic ins and outs of running a coffee shop
  3. Minyanland–Students learn how to thrive in a community as they make and spend money. This is a step up in complexity from Moneyville
  4. Moneyville–Students learn how to thrive in a community as they make and spend money.

You can scale this up or down, depending upon the scaffolding your student group has for understanding this topic.

More discussion on economics:

Websites that Teach Your Kids About Money

Weekend Website #52: 7 Sites About Coin Counting

Weekend Websites: 52 Economics Websites

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Categories: Economics, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

29 Online Educational Activities Kids Will Love This Summer

earth dayWhat are we as parents and teachers most worried about over the summer? That kids will lose that education sharp edge. It will be dulled by sun and sand and something else.

Worry no more. Here’s your cure: learning disguised as play (inspired by the fascinating website, Playful Learning). Kids will think they’re playing games, but they’ll actually be participating in some of the leading [mostly] free simulations available in the education field. A note: some must be downloaded and a few purchased, so the link might take you to a website that provides access rather than play:

Economics/Money

  • Admongo–explore, discover and learn about online ads while playing a game
  • Coffee Shop—run a coffee shop business
  • Lemonade Stand—run a lemonade stand business

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Categories: Economics, Games/Simulations, History, Math, Problem solving, Science, Social media, Websites | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Websites that Teach Your Kids About Money

economicsI keep a list of money and economic websites for K-8. It’s a balancing act–teaching them to value money while doing so responsibly. I’m always on the lookout for new sites that accomplish that difficult goal. I must confess, they’re hard to come by.

Until Isreal Defeo, new Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, came up with these six. I hadn’t heard of any of them except Planet Orange (which might be going away. I left it in hopes it would survive). Check these out. I think you’ll like them:

It’s never too early to teach your kids about the value of saving money. Some child experts say that as soon as your child can do basic math, that’s a good time to start. You’ll want to begin as early as you can to make those money-saving skills stick: The ideal situation is that it’ll become as ingrained and second nature as brushing your teeth or changing your underwear.

Here are some websites that can help make learning about money fun.

Planet Orange’s

(Literally) out-of-this-world game takes kids by the hand to guide them through basic financial concepts. After signing up, kids pick out an astronaut name and password, and start their interplanetary travels. Tasks must be completed at every planet to earn money (or “Obux”) for gas.

Besides teaching kids that money is necessary for certain activities (like decorating their spaceships), it also demonstrates the concept of bartering, or exchanging goods for other goods.

ING Direct assures parents that the site is purely educational and free to join.

Gone… how sad…

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Categories: Economics, Games/Simulations, Websites | Tags: | 2 Comments