Borrowing and lending: Two financial concepts kids learn by playing games

Learning about money can be as easy as playing a game.

The National 4-H Curriculum, Reading Makes ₵ents, makes learning the concept of lending and borrowing fun for elementary school-aged youth.  Combining two key life skills -- reading literacy and money management skills-- the curriculum recommends several books and activities related to the topic.

The chapter begins with two simple rules:

  • Borrow only what you can return or repay as promised; and
  • Do not lend items that are very precious to you.

The curriculum also shares numerous ideas for teaching financial concepts through interactive and engaging games.

Michigan State University Extension suggest that in order to identify what children already know about lending and borrowing, participants  should create a K-W-L chart. This chart graphically delineates what the children know, what they wonder about the topic and that they have learned.  This helps children process new information by arranging it in a visual way.  In the first activity, the chart is used to teach youth about banks and credit unions.  Once completed the participants break into groups to investigate one question in their wonder list and report what they have learned to the group.

Using the recommended book, The Monster Money Book, children are introduced to basic personal finance concepts including various forms of money, personal checks, interest and the “secret code” needed to use an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).  The read-aloud section sets the stage for a code-breaking game where one student chooses a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and gives clues to their partner to break the code.

Reading Less Than Zero leads to a board game about interest on borrowed money and loan sharking.  The participants can build the three-dimensional playing surface themselves using a cereal box and small cups.  Templates for all the game pieces are included in the curriculum.

Children get hands-on experience with bartering, trading and buying after reading the book, 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents.  Using construction blocks the participants have to trade, barter or buy the necessary pieces to build their ideal robot alarm clock with enough money left over to travel to the “Invention Convention.”

For additional fun and reinforcement, the chapter ends with two pages of quotes about money as well as jokes and riddles involving money.

This educational curriculum provides numerous book recommendations on lending and borrowing including, several alternate reading selections for independent readers.  The leader/teacher is encouraged to guide the youth to complete the experiential learning process by utilizing the discussion questions and extension activities provided.

The Reading Makes ₵ents curriculum was developed by professionals at Pennsylvania State University and pilot tested by youth in after-school programs across the country.  It has been reviewed, recommended and accepted into the National 4-H Curriculum set of professional educational resources.

An overview of the curriculum as well as other chapters of the book, are highlighted in separate articles posted on the MSU Extension website.

This 194-page resource is available from 4-H Mall at Reading Makes ₵ents.  Contact your local MSU Extension office for additional information about financial literacy programming for youth.

For more information about children and money, visit the finance website.

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