Fun with Finance: Classroom Activities for Financial Literacy Month
Do you think teaching financial literacy to your students sounds risky? Maybe you imagine blank stares and moans of “This is boring!” rising up like the cries of ghosts in a graveyard.
It’s true, financial management may not mean a lot to a kid who doesn’t have many finances to manage yet. The future seems so far away! Kids aren’t wired to worry about it. Besides, the message of finance lessons often boils down to a simple, boring admonition to “save more, spend less.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way. April is Financial Literacy Month, and we owe it to our kids to help them establish a foundation of money smarts that will help them now and in the future. After all, the future does matter.
So how can we make money smarts engaging for kids? Here’s one idea: Instead of focusing on saving, play a game in which they get to spend money—on investments.
What Are Stocks?
Start with a quick lesson on what a stock is: It’s a share of a company. When you buy stock in a company, you become a part owner of that company—a very small part. You don’t have any say in how the company does business (unless you own a lot of stock). But you do get to enjoy part of the company’s earnings. If the company does well, then the value of its stock goes up. If the company does poorly, the value of its stock goes down.
For example, say you buy ten shares of stock in the Super Awesome Sneakers company. Each share costs $10, so your shares cost $100. And let’s say lots of people buy Super Awesome Sneakers and the company’s owners run it well. The value of each share might go up. Six months later, each share might be worth $12. Now those ten shares you paid $100 for are worth $120. If you sell your shares, that’s how much you will get. You can sell your shares any time, but the price you get for them is the value of the stock at that time. If the value went down, you will lose money on the sale.
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