You may remember a little while ago we asked for some of your help regarding a financial literacy article for Teach Primary magazine. Quite a few people volunteered their services so thank you very much! But it was Drew Buddie who won us over with his original finance lesson tips. Here’s the finished article which is currently appearing in Teach Primary’s September/October issue…
The credit crunch has dominated headlines in the past year to such an extent that young people cannot avoid either reading or hearing about it, or worse, experiencing the consequences first-hand within their families. In short, youngsters are hearing that financial experts got it so wrong that debts arising may not be paid for many years.
In the face of this, I have tried to redress the balance within my classroom by showing my Year 5 and 6 students how to carry out financial exercises that allow them to see the implications of their decisions and understand how to deal with money in everyday situations.
At the outset it’s important to understand that I am a Head of ICT in a school where I teach Year 5 to Year 13. I am not a teacher of Maths. However, I try to ensure my lessons are not just skills-based; they are contextualised so students see the application of ICT across a spectrum of situations. So, I’m going to outline a progressive blend of ICT-based activities I employ in the classroom which involve finances in some shape or form.
1. Shopping around
Introducing spreadsheets gives rise to many opportunities for discussing finances. I give students a spreadsheet showing the cost of a recipe and they see how a rise in the cost of an ingredient can result in the cost of the finished meal increasing. After a discussion of the implications of this when working within a budget, students research prices of ingredients using supermarket websites, learning the value of shopping around – important when parents may exclusively shop in one supermarket.
Using Disney’s superb business simulation, Hot Shot Business, students gain first-hand experience of what happens when they make crucial business decisions. It lasts for six virtual weeks and gives students a good understanding of factors such as the repayment of loans, competition, and supply and demand. Students can take screenshots of financial updates at the end of each virtual week and incorporate the data into a spreadsheet of their own, creating live graphs of their progress. A combination of fun scenarios and engaging game play makes this one of my students’ favourite activities. It gives rise to many a ‘light bulb moment’
2. Planning for disaster
Placing students in a pressurised situation proves of great value when teaching the importance of money. Stop Disasters Game is a website created by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. This simulation presents five natural disasters scenarios for which students are given Mission Goals. To succeed, students are given limited funds to spend to ensure that as many people as possible survive the impending disaster. The game climaxes with a disaster occurring and students discover how successful they were.
We discuss the finances involved during the game as students start to realise how much needs to be spent to keep people safe in vulnerable areas. This leads to further discussion about why relief charities often need vast sums of money if they are to serve large areas of devastation. Some of the discussions that have arisen from this exercise have been truly invigorating.
3. Top of the league
Finally, in terms of scale, no part of our lives seems to involve as much money as football currently does. All of my students in Year 6 participate in Schools Fantasy League which is based on real life data attributed to the performances of English Premier League footballers. Pupils buy a team of real players and manage that team for the duration of the season.
The realism and meaningfulness of the data is the game’s secret weapon and there are many spinoff activities. It is easy to use and is a hugely engaging activity which ensures the investigation into finances continues outside the classroom and into the home.
As a teacher, what more could you ask for than that?
The September/October issue of Teach Primary is available in large WH Smith stores from 6th September.