Financial literacy lesson plans for youth are fun, engaging and educational. Here are two sample activities from the TECHgyrls & MoneySmarts curriculum, a companion project to our Girls In Action Program:
"The Cost of Cool" Lesson Plan
Create an awareness of the cost impact for buying name brand items versus generic brand items. Discover the price people pay to look "cool."
Brainstorm name brands for every type or product. Circle the brands that participants really like. Discuss brands and why the girls choose to buy them such as: What brand of jeans are you wearing? What made you buy that brand? What brand of shampoo do you use? What brand of shoes do you buy? What brand of t-shirt do you wear? Discuss advertisements: Where do you see ads for your favorite brands? What do you think the purpose of the advertisement is?
Students pair up. Using websites, printouts and/or magazine advertisements, they comparison shop for given items (jeans, tennis shoes, t-shirts, backpacks, watches, etc.) and find items that range in price from inexpensive to expensive. They create and utilize a recording sheet for their findings (including item description and cost). They calculate the difference between the lowest and highest items; enter these amounts in Microsoft Excel; discuss the positive and negative consequences of buying name brand versus generic brands; review the impact of advertisements on buying habit; and write in anonymous journals about findings, the activity and the "cost of cool."
Youth also take field trips to experience the real world of finance:
"Who Needs Prince Charming" Field Trip
At the Junior Achievement Finance Park "Real Word" Experience, middle school girls learn about budgeting, credit, differentiating between "wants" and "needs" and various financial terminology. They are given an "adult identity" with an income, children, a spouse, and the need to budget their money to survive. A fully interactive facility, the girls went from store front to store front purchasing a home, groceries, vehicles, insurance, etc. They attend a session "Who Needs Prince Charming?" where they learn how to use bank services, contribute to charities, buy a home, vehicle, furnishings, food, health care and other expenses, make investment decisions, and work to create and balance their personal budgets. The girls leave with a practical understanding of finances and money in terms of their day-to-day lives and their future, and hopefully feel that they can operate more comfortably in a climate where money is spent (wisely), saved, invested, and donated.