Talkin' Money

"if you ain't talkin' money, I don't wanna talk"

The irony of the fact that I am responsible for teaching my students about financial responsibility is never lost on me.

I didn't start a true budget until about three years ago. I think credit cards are tomorrow's problems. And college loans are just there to be chipped away slowly over 20 years, knowing the running balance isn't all that important.

But alas the great state of Texas has deemed me the best of the best to teach middle schoolers how to be financial responsible. Yikes...aka...sorry future America.

Talking about money is difficult for my students...and most people really...but it is hard for them to realize that in a few short years they will be dealing with it all on their own with no do overs. 
And middle schoolers love do overs.

I pretty much run two different projects for my different preps...I get a lot of repeat students so I need two different projects.

Project One - The Dream Room Project - Students have a budget of $5000.00 to purchase everything they will need to furnish and live in a house. They can not spend a penny more or less. They track all of their purchases in a publisher document and take pictures of the items they are purchasing in order to set up a floor plan of their dream house. I also require them to find a house or apartment, no budget required. 

I have tweaked this project over the last three years and regardless of the class size, age group or demographic I generally have a great amount of participation as they really enjoy looking at houses and furniture. Especially if its Versace!

Project Two - The Game of Life - Students have to choose a career, determine taxes, calculate costs of college and loan payments, purchase a house, calculate loans, purchase a car, calculate loans and then set up a monthly budget. There is so much math in this project!

This year I am throwing some real life problems in the mix: losing your job, marriage, kids and all of the expenses that come with the big life changes that happen. 

All loans, scholarships, down payments and life changes are all done by chance: a student draws a card at random to determine what life is throwing their way.

The students enjoy looking at houses and cars and suddenly all of my life changes have them on their toes...which keeps me mildly entertained.

While running these two projects run I use a bunch of websites to assist both me and my students in learning about the financial skills they will need in their futures.  - For kids, teens, parents and teachers this website has great resources and activities for students to be more hands on, like writing a check or calculating interest on credit card purchases - This website has a bit of everything including lessons for educators. My favorite section are the games though because...students love games...DUH! - Financial Football is one of the most interactive games from the website for my students, or/and the financial socceer, the questions can be tailored to your students age groups. - This Avengers Comic Book focuses on learning how to save money and saving the day! - This site is for middle school and high school: you set up an account and then upload your students and assign them specific modules that you want them to listen to. The modules can be read or there is audio for the students to listen to, perfect for your LEP's, and then they anwser questions as they move through the module. There is math involved, which I am not going to lie my students HATE! You can assign as many modules as you want and the system grades the student with topics ranging from credit cards, savings and credit ratings there are topics to fit all of the financial objectives. - This site is my newest find and I have been loving it!

As the teacher all you have to do is set up the class and provide the students a class code and they set up their own account, which I love. The students choose missions to complete and they are awarded points for how well they solve the mission. It is all very video game like which has been highly engaging for my students. 

And the nice thing about the points is we currently have a little competition going and the top 12 students with the highest score in each class will get to choose their partner for the final the competition is on!

While talking about money might not be the most glamours topic to middle schoolers, I feel like with the help of an over the top project, fun engaging websites that contain games and websites written in teen like language these units fly by!

And every so often a student walks away with a real life skill that will help them later on in life...crazy talk!

How do you teach your students real life or everyday skills?

- The Babbling Box!


  1. I so wish I would've been in your class to learn these important life skills. I don't remember EVER having a class that dealt with real-life money issues, budgeting, etc. This is awesome. I wonder how my 5th graders could do with something like this. Thanks for all the wonderful websites. I knew about The Mint, but hadn't heard of the others. P.S. I just got a credit card after not having one for many, many years. I think 20 years later, I might be able to handle it this time! Lol!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. I really need to be in your class! This is such a valuable lesson to teach students. I have been slowly paying my student loan for 14 years now. :( At least the interest is a tax write off, whereas credit card interest is not, unfortunately. Thanks for linking up! :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

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