“I really liked the challenge,” said one student in Mr. Swanson’s Mind Your Money summer program class. This was a common theme for students who learned to think about, talk about and actively make choices with money through a series of challenges and interactive exercises. The class premise was derived from author, Nathan Dungan’s Share Save Spend philosophy, with the goal of starting children on the path to financial literacy early.
Dungan says, “Healthy money habits start with a conversation,” about the students’ values and tendencies with money. This class did just that and more by engaging the students in simulations of real-life saving, spending and sharing activities.
They earned money via a series of individual and group exercises and events, where their “dividend” was based upon “on-the-job” performance. The better the cooperation, communication and cohesiveness, the higher the reward. Students were then challenged to build a device to keep a chicken egg intact when dropped from the MMS roof. The dividends they had earned were used to buy their materials. They played-out the real-life scenario of learning packaging costs, how much capital is needed to start-up a business and how to define the value of a given material.
“I didn’t know shopping smartly using just $10 would be so difficult,” said student Meghan M. Another student agreed, saying, “I really liked the challenge of buying the cheapest packaging material to protect my egg.” But, it was more than just the challenge to buy smart, students learned the difficult balance between staying within their budget, yet still achieving their goal of buying materials needed to protect their egg and make their device work. They had to shop and buy smart.
In the end, the egg that had the most expensive packaging material and the egg with the least expensive material both survived. It was “wonderful to see the different ingenuities of the students,” said math and money whiz Mr. Swanson.
By the end of the class students had earned money, saved it to achieve project goals, and learned how supply/demand as well as their views of product value determine cost. They also took the final step of sharing, after first taking a trip to the grocery store to learn the value of buying in bulk so that their donation to a food pantry could mean that much more.
“The opportunity to engage students in high-level discussions about money values and the differences between needs and wants was the most rewarding part of my course,” mused Swanson. “That and knowing how to package the next dozen eggs we might test-drop during afternoon pick-up. So, keep your eyes open and (windows closed).”
Click here for more information about Nathan Dungan’s Share Save Spend philosophy.