More Than a Checkbook: Classroom Resources for Personal Finance and Banking

Middle school students are learning personal finance and banking possibly for the first time in their lives. How can you teach it so that they grasp the ideas? The Federal Reserve System offers a variety of resources for teaching the fundamentals. For additional lesson activities and classroom resources, visit the Federal Reserve System's education website.

Continue to check out the Atlanta Fed's Extra Credit for lesson suggestions and educational offerings.

Role plays are often an excellent means to engage students in a topic, and the Kansas City Fed has created several. For example, "To Pay the Price ," which has a quiz show format, covers online banking, electronic payment methods, direct deposit, and security measures used to protect against identity theft. "Payment Parliament " teaches about the costs and benefits of different payment options. "There's No Business Like Bank Business " introduces the importance of savings and earning and paying interest, as well as how a bank operates.

Lesson 2: In the Aftermath  from the Atlanta Fed's curriculum Katrina's Classroom can help teach middle schoolers about the benefits of banking as well as how to open an account and make deposits.

Some of the Atlanta Fed's award-winning lesson plans of the year are also useful, including "The Bank of Good Habits " (from 2010) and "Banking and Budgeting " (2008).

Online resources
The Board of Governors has created a consumer information site that includes its 5 Tips Series. One installment of this series features recommendations on protecting checking accounts. You can also find a guide here to what people should know about checks and overdraft fees as well. Post any of these "5 Tips" in your room for ready reference. These are available in Spanish as well.

Be sure to check out the article "Beyond the Checkbook: Choices of Payment Methods" from a 2008 issue of this Atlanta Fed online newsletter, Extra Credit.

"Growing Money," the first video in the St. Louis Fed's new video series, No Frills Money Skills: Growing Money, introduces the magic of compounding interest. Watch for upcoming episodes on additional personal finance topics.

Also from the St. Louis Fed, Personal Finance 101 Chats has three pre-recorded chats pertaining to banking and payment methods. "How to Open a Bank Account" (episode 1) is a simulated chat between a student and a banking specialist who answers questions about the process involved in opening an account. "All About Debit Cards and Overdraft" (episode 3) is a chat session between a mother and her college-age son about overdraft fees and standard bank rules governing overdraft protection. "Prepaid Debit Cards" (episode 5) covers the pros and cons of this payment option during a chat between sisters. This simulation also emphasizes the advantages to opening checking accounts with financial institutions like credit unions and banks.

Print materials
Lesson 4  from the Dallas Fed's Building Wealth curriculum has students read passages from the Boston Fed's popular primer Banking Basics as they explore the advantages of banking.

Banking Basics is an educational booklet that gives an overview of the U.S. banking system. Topics include checks clearing currency circulation, and others. You can order a classroom set.

Order the Cleveland Fed's disposable activity book Great Minds Think: A Kid's Guide to Money, to teach sixth- and seventh-grade students about saving.

Build word walls to teach key terms associated with banking such as bank, account, deposit, withdrawal, interest, save, money, earn, and currency with the Kansas City Fed's Fifty Nifty Econ Cards. You can order a set of the cards and Use the supporting website for lesson ideas and to generate custom-designed word puzzles for review and assessment.

The Richmond Fed's photo essay, "Maggie Walker Leaves Lasting Legacy ," tells the story of Maggie Lena Walker, the first African-American woman to charter a bank. The bank she chartered provided mortgage lending for the critically underserved African-American community in Richmond at the turn of the 20th century. According to the essay, Walker's bank is "the oldest continually operating black-owned bank in the country."

Related Links on Other Sites

By Amy Hennessy, senior economic and financial education specialist, Public Affairs
October 5, 2012