Money Smart Week: Service project for teens

Teens can teach youth financial literacy concepts during April’s Money Smart Week.

Money Smart Week takes place every April as part of April's designation as Financial Literacy Month. There are many events across Michigan that take place for community members, families and youth to learn more about financial topics.

Research has shown that doing an activity can be one of the best ways to reinforce the concepts on a topic. Because of this, Money Smart Week is a great time for teens to engage in a service project where they teach elementary age youth a variety of financial education topics.

Michigan State University Exension 4-H Youth Development has many resources for teens to utilize to engage in this worthwhile service project. Here are some ideas:

  1. Teens can utilize the Reading Makes Cents curriculum with elementary school-aged youth. This curriculum uses children’s literature to teach money management topics. The teens could read the books and engage the elementary students in the activities related to that book and topic.
  2. Iowa State University Extension has a spending plan and money decision-making activity geared towards elementary aged students. The Allowance Game walks youth through money choices with their “allowance” in the form of beans or small candy pieces. In subsequent rounds of the game, “money” is taken away and youth must make tough choices about how to spend their money. This is an easy activity for teens to lead with younger youth.
  3. Teens can create flash cards of currency and matching examples of that currency in written form. For instance, teens would create a card with a picture of a dime and then cards with 10 cents, 0.10 and 10¢ on cards. Teens can then play games with the younger youth to match up the pictures with the cards that represent that currency.
  4. Helping youth learn the importance of saving is also a great lesson that teens can teach those younger than them. Teens can talk about why saving money is important, the history of the piggy bank and help young people decorate their own piggy bank to take home. The teen facilitators can include savings tips in the piggy banks for the children to take home with them.

Helping and teaching others, especially in a peer mentoring relationship, is a great way for teen youth to enhance their leadership and communication skills and be a part of making a difference in their community. Money Smart Week in April is a perfect time for older youth to teach crucial money management skills to elementary aged youth and help youth learn life skills regarding their finances. In the process, the teens might even learn something new about money themselves!

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

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