Even though prices at the pump are falling, few are naïve enough to think that it signals an end to economic turmoil. We all know we are in a heap of trouble: debt, unemployment, high food prices, spiraling stock value and dwindling savings. Um, did I mention debt?
Somewhere along the line, we adults missed the money lesson, “Dollars and Sense.” We didn’t listen when our mamas told us, “Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.” Well, I guess it appeared it did for some, but even that greenery is suffering from severe root rot.
I suspect it’s going to take some radical changes to address this blight. We may have trouble digging ourselves out, but there’s still time to teach our children their lessons about financial literacy. Building good habits now may help this generation avoid having to break bad ones later on.
I say start teaching financial literacy young – as soon as the risk of swallowing pennies passes. No, wait! We can start teaching them before that! We can begin by setting a good example at home. We can take our children and grandchildren shopping, show them the grocery list and talk about the value of coins, bills and a personal budget. An allowance presents a framework for teaching lessons on saving, spending and sharing, and a lemonade stand and chores help children draw the link between work and financial reward.
There are many ways to enrich financial literacy lessons at school too: games, books, hands-on activities and even poems. Here is a humorous poem by Shel Silverstein, followed by a nice list of online books about money on Big Universe. For an extensive list of other math books on the website, visit my blog titled “Math Class Need a Makeover? Try Some Good Books.”
My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one!
And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes -- I guess he don't know
That three is more than two!
Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just 'cause he can't see
He gave me four nickles for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!
And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!
And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head--
Too proud of me to speak!
- by Shel Silverstein
Books About Money on Big Universe
- “American Coins and Bills,” Grade Level 3-5
- “Our Economy In Action,” Grades 3-5
- “USING MONEY on a Shopping Trip,” Grades 2 and up
- “USING MONEY at the Lemonade Stand," Grades 1 and up
- “Around the World with Money,” Grades 4 and up
- “How Coins and Bills Are Made,” Grades 3-6
- “Bank Tellers Then and Now,” Grades 2-3
- “Money Through the Ages,” Grades 3-4
- “Shopping in the City,” Grades 1 and up
- “Counting at the Market,” Grades K and up
- “The Shopping Cart,” Grades K and up
- “What Color is Your Piggy Bank? Entrepreneurial Ideas for Self-Starting Kids,” Grades 4-9