TeachersFirst's Understanding Economics and Money: TeachersFirst Editors' Choices

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Understanding how world economic systems work can mystify even the experts, but all of us need to understand the basics of how an economy functions, especially as current events challenge us to adjust to tough times. Today's students and teachers must try to translate the language of financial gurus and the news media in a meaningful and personal context.

This collection of resources has been hand-picked by the editors of TeachersFirst from among our many reviewed resources on economics and money. These selections were chosen to help students (and families) grasp basic economic principles, personal financial planning, and banking at an age-appropriate level.

To complement these resources on the "facts" about economics, TeachersFirst's partner site, TeachersAndFamilies, offers this article and activities to help children and teens handle the feelings and stresses of tough economic times and to mitigate the toll these times can take on families. By understanding the feelings of children and teens and by helping them build age-appropriate knowledge, teachers and families can ease the strain of the tough times we all face together.

We hope you will share these resources with your colleagues and school parents by emailing this page or sharing the link.

 

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Frontline: Breaking the Bank - PBS

Grades
9 to 12
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A website connected to an episode of Frontline, this site looks at the recent collapse of several large "superbanks," and how these bank failures have been connected to the general...more
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A website connected to an episode of Frontline, this site looks at the recent collapse of several large "superbanks," and how these bank failures have been connected to the general economic downturn. Many PBS shows' sites are built around the concept of having students "watch the show and discuss"; these require teachers to buy or find a copy of episode. However, this site includes access to the full episode (requires Flash), which can be viewed as a whole or in sections. The resource list is very comprehensive and would give students who are researching national or global economics many good sources. Finally, there is analysis, set up in Q&A format that stands alone, and could be used if you don't want to use classtime to view the video episode.

tag(s): banks (9), money (184), recession (3)

In the Classroom

Although this site deals with the 2008-2009 banking crisis at a level that is probably more in-depth than most teachers have the opportunity to deal with, it would be useful for an economics class or a recent American history class. You might consider some portions of it during a discussion of the Great Depression in the 1930s, to help students connect that economic time with the present. Finally, this might be a good resource site for students who are interested or who are working on more comprehensive projects. Why not have students create a multimedia presentation of their own demonstrating their understanding of the connection between the bank failures and the economic downturn. Have students create (and respond) on class wikis. Not comfortable with wikis? Have no wiki worries - check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Video: Investing Money in Plain English - Common Craft

Grades
4 to 12
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This site offers a short video (4-minutes) focusing on investing money. Learn about the stock market, savings, and basic economics. The site explains the risks and benefits of investing...more
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This site offers a short video (4-minutes) focusing on investing money. Learn about the stock market, savings, and basic economics. The site explains the risks and benefits of investing and saving money. There is a link provided to embed the video. Despite a paid membership model, Common Craft still offers this video for free, but it does have a watermark saying, "For evaluation only." If you wish to share this with a group, they will need to view it on individual/partner computers (or IOS devices) or on a projector that has a zoom function to enlarge a selected area of the screen.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): investing (8), stock market (13)

In the Classroom

Share this video with your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have cooperative learning groups research other aspects of economics or business and create their own videos. Share the videos on Teachertube (explained here).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Video: Borrowing Money in Plain English - Common Craft

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5 to 12
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This short video demonstrates the risks, benefits, and realities of borrowing money. The video offers simple pictures to explain the complex topics. Despite a paid membership model,...more
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This short video demonstrates the risks, benefits, and realities of borrowing money. The video offers simple pictures to explain the complex topics. Despite a paid membership model, Common Craft still offers this video for free, but it does have a watermark saying, "For evaluation only." If you wish to share this with a group, they will need to view it on individual/partner computers (or IOS devices) or on a projector that has a zoom function to enlarge a selected area of the screen.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): business (57), money (184)

In the Classroom

Share this video with your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector or embed it in your class web page or wiki during your unit on credit or percent. Have cooperative learning groups research other aspects of savings, borrowing, or economics and create their own videos. Share the videos on Teachertube (explained here).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Video: Saving Money in Plain English - Common Craft

Grades
4 to 12
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This site offers a short introductory video about savings. Learn the basics of savings, compound interest, and how money continues to grow over time. Despite a paid membership model,...more
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This site offers a short introductory video about savings. Learn the basics of savings, compound interest, and how money continues to grow over time. Despite a paid membership model, Common Craft still offers this video for free, but it does have a watermark saying, "For evaluation only." If you wish to share this with a group, they will need to view it on individual/partner computers (or IOS devices) or on a projector that has a zoom function to enlarge a selected area of the screen.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): money (184)

In the Classroom

Share this video with your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have cooperative learning groups research other aspects of economics and create their own videos. Include this video as you teach about interest in math class, then have students create a video advertisement for a savings program. Share the videos on Teachertube (explained here).
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Stock Market - Finance - Myvocabulary.com

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5 to 12
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As part of their extensive site for vocabulary, roots, and more, MyVocabulary.com has added a themed area for the Stock Market. Find interactive vocabulary activities using Stock Market...more
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As part of their extensive site for vocabulary, roots, and more, MyVocabulary.com has added a themed area for the Stock Market. Find interactive vocabulary activities using Stock Market related vocabulary words. You will also find printable crosswords, fill in the blanks and more, all using the same theme words. This and other "themes" available on the site will make vocabulary development fun.

tag(s): money (184), stock market (13)

In the Classroom

Have students work in cooperative learning groups, divide up the vocabulary words, and have each group find the definitions for their assigned vocabulary words. Have the groups share their words and definitions in an online book, using a tool such as Bookemon (reviewed here). Have the groups share the online books on your interactive whiteboard or projector. If you don't have the time to complete online books, have students share the definitions using a class wiki. Be sure to also check out the interactive word puzzles!

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The History of Money - The History Channel

Grades
6 to 12
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With the news dominated by problems with the world economy, this site on this history of money might provide a good baseline for further discussion. The video gallery features historic...more
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With the news dominated by problems with the world economy, this site on this history of money might provide a good baseline for further discussion. The video gallery features historic newsreel clips and other content associated with currency and economics. An image gallery shows the history of US coinage. There is a page of quotes related to money as well as a resources page with links to other sites with further information. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): currency (19), great depression (25), money (184)

In the Classroom

Use the video clips to introduce a lesson or reinforce content on the history of the Great Depression, or the significance of the gold standard, for example. Use the "coined phrases" as writing prompts or as thoughts to ponder, posted in the classroom. The interactive timeline shows the history of US currency and would work well on an interactive whiteboard or projector.
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Schwab MoneyWise - Charles Schwab

Grades
9 to 12
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This is a nice informational site for students, teachers, and parents. Learn about budgeting, saving, and investing. Use the calculators to determine interest, savings, and more. This...more
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This is a nice informational site for students, teachers, and parents. Learn about budgeting, saving, and investing. Use the calculators to determine interest, savings, and more. This site has polls, tips, articles of interest, and a link for teachers. At the teachers' link, you will find lesson ideas, true stories of teachers "in the trenches," and other links. There are also downloadable PDF files of teaching guides and student activities.

tag(s): money (184)

In the Classroom

Use the lesson ideas at this site to help your high school students understand economics. Take advantage of the free teaching guides and student worksheets.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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High School Financial Planning Program - National Endowment for Financial Education

Grades
8 to 12
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If you are teaching students about the economy, budgeting, debt, or other topics of "money" - don't miss this site! Highlights include six programs of study (Money Management, Borrowing,...more
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If you are teaching students about the economy, budgeting, debt, or other topics of "money" - don't miss this site! Highlights include six programs of study (Money Management, Borrowing, Earning Power, Investing, Financial Services, and Insurance). Each program has a 40-page, stand-alone Student Guide (PDF files). There are also articles and interactives. The interactives are incredibly useful (although they are called Games). The Games include "Live to Work? Or Work to Live," "Education: Worth It?," "Paper or Plastic," and several others. Another great feature of this site is that it is also available in Spanish.

tag(s): money (184)

In the Classroom

There are many ways to incorporate this website into your plans and help your students prepare for their financial futures. Download entire units to use with your class. There are countless activities presented with each unit. An economics class could focus on one new unit each week (or even month). Demonstrate the Games on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students try out the "real life" economics interactives on their own computers. Download (and print) copies of the unit. Have students work in cooperative learning groups to read through the units and complete the activities.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Sense and Dollars - Maryland Public Television

Grades
6 to 12
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Plan your dream job, pretend to live on your own, pay bills, and decide what the "important" extras are at this site. There are links to interactives that help you ...more
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Plan your dream job, pretend to live on your own, pay bills, and decide what the "important" extras are at this site. There are links to interactives that help you learn to save, spend, and earn money! You can even plan a "dream prom" budget. Students learn about money and economics as they practice living in the "real world." There is a Teachers' Guide, although it is tricky to find. Click on the GO button and then the Info link. Here you will find a link to a Teachers' Guide and Parents' Guide. The guides provide statistics about students (and adults) knowledge of money, standards, lesson ideas, tutorials, technology tips, and links for more information. You MUST turn off any pop-up blockers to fully access this site!

tag(s): money (184)

In the Classroom

Have students work on individual computers and explore this site. There are many options to print off pages that they complete (for example, the mock budget that they create in Check It Out). Visit the "Teachers' Guide" to get more ideas about how to use this website in your math, social studies, or economics class.

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Kid's Finance - kidsfinance.com

Grades
1 to 6
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This simple site offers a basic introduction to money and financing for younger students. The site has two main "characters" Penny and Bill. There is biographical information...more
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This simple site offers a basic introduction to money and financing for younger students. The site has two main "characters" Penny and Bill. There is biographical information about various "bills" of money, a matching game, and puzzles. There are printable pages, reference information, and other useful tools. There is a link to purchase a coinciding book; the site is FREE and usable without the book.

tag(s): money (184)

In the Classroom

Get some basic ideas at this site. Everything here is quick and simple. You will want to supplement with other information about the economy and money.

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Bank Rate - bankrate.com

Grades
6 to 12
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This simple site provides a calculator to figure out how long it will take for you to pay off credit card debt. They ask a few simple questions (how much ...more
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This simple site provides a calculator to figure out how long it will take for you to pay off credit card debt. They ask a few simple questions (how much you owe, what percentage rate your card has, current monthly payments, etc). Then they present you with WHEN your debt will be paid in full and how much interest will cost you during that time.

In the Classroom

If your students are starting to use credit cards, share this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector.

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Practical Money Skills - Practical Money Skills for Life

Grades
4 to 12
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This site offers lots of information on money management for students of all ages, including college students. Click on the Education tab at the top and select your grade level...more
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This site offers lots of information on money management for students of all ages, including college students. Click on the Education tab at the top and select your grade level to find lesson plans, curriculum ideas, classroom resources, and more. The lesson plans include a PowerPoint presentation for the lesson (also in PDF format) and student activities. Though some look gray as if they aren't accessible, they are, so just click or double click on them and they will be downloaded to your computer. Help high school students succeed financially after high school with the 22 free, standards-aligned lessons that this site has revamped for grades 9-12. This section includes student-centered activities, research projects, discussion points, and resources. Clicking on the Games tab will display many games at different grade levels. Especially interesting for high school and college students will be the Financial Football. Only the games require Flash. This site is fully accessible with no registration.

tag(s): financial literacy (78), money (184)

In the Classroom

There are countless options and ideas about how to use this site in your classroom. Share the interactives on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Take advantage of the FREE lesson plans to teach your students about money and the economy. Use the free, standards-aligned lessons in sequence or on an individual basis. If financial literacy is not part of your Common Core Standards for math, think about making the activities and/or games a weekly center or activity on the computers in your classroom or the school computer lab. Also, look through the videos listed to see if there are any that are age appropriate for your students.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Economic Education Web - University of Omaha

Grades
K to 12
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Although this site is "plain vanilla," we seldom see anything as useful as this one. The site contains an extensive collection of standards-correlated lesson plans for teaching principles...more
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Although this site is "plain vanilla," we seldom see anything as useful as this one. The site contains an extensive collection of standards-correlated lesson plans for teaching principles of economics at all K-12 levels. The content is drawn from a variety of sources, and some of the presentations are in the form of printable PDF files. While a number of the lessons and resources are centered on standards in Nebraska, there are correlations to national standards, and most of the material could be used elsewhere, sometimes with minor adaptations. This is one that every social studies or economics teacher should see.

Examples of topics for the K-5 students include Shortages and Surpluses, Consumers/Consumption, Functions of Money, and countless others. Grade 6-8 topics include Role of the Government, Unemployment, Economic Growth, and many others. Some of the higher level topics for grades 9-12 include Circular Flow, Market Failures, Federal Reserve, and much more! Many of the topics include more than one lesson plan or classroom activity. A few of the topics are "under construction" as new material is constantly added. Some of the printables require Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

In the Classroom

Take advantage of these ready to go lesson plans at all grade levels. Anyone who teachers social studies or economics can easily find an appropriate lesson plan (linked to standards). Use these lessons to help students understand the economy, learn new vocabulary words, and deepen their understanding on money.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Consumer Jungle

Grades
9 to 12
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This is a well-structured site targeted to students and teachers, with separate sections for each. The topics include common encounters with credit, financial planning, and budgets...more
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This is a well-structured site targeted to students and teachers, with separate sections for each. The topics include common encounters with credit, financial planning, and budgets that young people are likely to encounter as they complete high school. The presentation is interesting without preaching, though teachers will need to bolster the thin lesson outlines if they use them. There is also a list of 50 Common Financial Pitfalls. There is a neat Money Skills Life Simulation. In addition, students can click to learn about the "Fraud of the Month." Most of these topics include a PowerPoint presentation and brief lesson plan. This could be a good start for a simulation or class activity. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): money (184)

In the Classroom

Share various portions of this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students try the simulation on their own. Did they reach their financial goals? The Fraud of the Month would be a good way to share a new topic (about money and the economy) each week. There are at least twenty that are ready to go from previous months. Be sure to visit the Teachers link. You do NOT have to join to use this fabulous tool.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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All of Inflation's Little Parts - The New York Times

Grades
7 to 12
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As the saying goes, "It's the economy, stupid." The US economy continues to be an important talking point. Some report that the country is already slipping into recession, but what...more
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As the saying goes, "It's the economy, stupid." The US economy continues to be an important talking point. Some report that the country is already slipping into recession, but what does that mean? This graphic, designed by the New York Times, is the kind of visual presentation that can really help put this discussion into perspective. Presented as an amped-up version of the traditional pie chart, the chart shows what percentage of the average consumer's spending is devoted to everything from cable TV to gas to fast food to postage. The graphic also shows the relative increase or decrease in that cost over the past year. For example, students may enjoy seeing the comparison between money spent on men's clothing versus that spent on women's clothing, with additional comparative data on shoes, accessories, and children's clothes! This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

In the Classroom

This relatively simple graphic has a very wide variety of possible applications. If you teach personal finance and budgeting, students can use this chart to compare the average American's spending with their own. If you teach economics, the fact that the items that have increased the most in the past year are gasoline, fuel oil, firewood, and eggs (OK, eggs?) will bear out the impact of the rise in the cost of crude oil and the chaos in the middle east. If you teach civics or government, you can show how the changes in the economy affect what citizens want from their politicians. If you teach math, the graphic's real-life data could be used as a basis for computation and problem solving. Because it's Flash-enabled, the "mouse over" effects and the ability to zoom in and out to see greater detail (how much does the average American spends on ham versus turkey? It's on there!). This site would work well on an interactive whiteboard or projector.
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The Mint: Fun Financial Literacy Activities for Kids, Teens, Parents and Teachers - Northwestern Mutual Foundation

Grades
6 to 12
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Economics and the stock market have taken center stage since the crises of 2008. This site provides a nice overview of the world of personal investment including sections on earning,...more
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Economics and the stock market have taken center stage since the crises of 2008. This site provides a nice overview of the world of personal investment including sections on earning, saving, spending, investing, giving, owing, safeguarding, and tracking. There are also a number of interactive features that can provide insight into the student's attitudes toward money. Online calculators help students understand how finance charges affect the "bottom line" for purchases bought on credit, and how saving in interest-bearing accounts can increase assets. The "Ideas for Teachers" link includes lesson plans and other tips for using the site in an educational setting. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): business (57), money (184)

In the Classroom

This site provides some great tools for use by students in a personal finance or "Real World" class, as well as information to supplement a discussion of economics or current events. You could also use it as a real world application of many math concepts or team teach middle school math and social studies together. Consider assigning the interactive quizzes as independent work, and using the topical overviews to accompany a lecture or class discussion. One drawback: the "sounds" that accompany mousing over your choices are very distracting. Consider turning down the sound (or hitting mute) on your computer if you use this site on an interactive whiteboard. Challenge students to write "financial" blogs offering advice, based on the information learned at this site. Or assign them to demonstrate competence with concepts such as per cent and interest by creating a financial advice column for a student online newspaper.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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