What is it?
Practical Money Skills is a personal finance literacy website which is designed to meet the needs of people, all over the world. Depending on what country you live in (or which country you choose from the drop-down menu on the top right hand corner of the screen), this will bring you to the part of the website that has information that is relevant for people in that country. This website is also for people of all ages, careers, and needs such as educators, children, and people who just want to learn about personal finance.
On this website, the reader can learn about personal finance in a variety of ways such as:
1. Games – There are 5 games to choose from: Ed’s Bank, Financial Soccer, Money Metropolis, Peter Pig’s Money Counter, and Road Trip to Savings.
In Ed’s Bank, you must help “Ed” save up enough money so that he can go shopping. You are given a time limit and must grab as many coins as you can in that time. When the time is up, you can go to the store and purchase items that you will have enough for. To be honest, this game was not very interesting at all to me and I did not learn anything; nor did it reinforce any knowledge that I had. It honestly felt like a pointless game (for my use, high school).
In Financial Soccer, you play a game of soccer against a team of your choice. In order to move forward or steal the ball from the other team, you must answer a question correctly (related to personal finance). You are given the choice (usually) of whether you would like to answer easy, medium, or hard questions and that will determine who you pass the ball to or if you keep moving forward. If you get an answer wrong, you either shoot the ball out of bounds or the other team steals the ball. In order to shoot (which you must get close enough to the net in order to do so), you must answer a question and get it correct in order to score. You are allowed to choose the duration of tie for the game and the overall difficulty before starting the game.
Money Metropolis is a game in which you choose something that you would like to save up for and you must earn enough money to buy it. You can earn (or lose) money by going around and visiting different places in town and play games. If you win, then you earn money, if you lose, then you lose money. Also, you can do odd jobs at these places such as delivering news papers and raking leaves (which you must buy your own equipment if needed!). You are not given a time limit but you must earn enough money to reach your goal.
Peter Pig’s Money Counter consists of three mini games. In the first mini game, you are given a bunch of coins and you must sort them into their appropriate jars. Once you have done this, you move onto the next mini game which you must count the value of the given coins and pick the lid that has that amount on it. Next, you are given two sets of coins and you must move a skateboard to the side which has the larger total amount of money. This game, along with Ed’s bank, is definitely a game for younger students in early elementary school where they must get accustomed to money and it’s individual and total worth.
In Road Trip to Savings, you must “steer your way to financial stability.” You have four weeks to move as much money into your savings account as you can in four weeks. You begin with $1000 cash and are given opportunities throughout the four weeks to earn (or lose) money. If you run out of gas or insurance, the game ends early. You earn or spend by driving your car into the icons that appear on the screen.
2. Information Pages – This website provides information on a variety of personal finance topics including: credit and debt (credit cards, debt, bankruptcy, etc.), savings and spending (saving, budgeting, banking, etc.), and life events (car, mortgage, marriage, divorce, etc.). Each section within the topics are only about one page length but they do provide even information to have a basic understanding of that topic.
3. Articles – These are not as relevant to the curriculum as the information pages and games described above; however, these can provide up-to-date, relevant and engaging information for anyone (including students). These articles can be found within the Expert Resources folder in the “Personal Finance” drop down menu.
The resources available for educators appear to be quite amazing. It looks engaging, student friendly, and nicely organized. Within each lesson plan, the following information is provided:
– Teacher Notes
– Required Materials
– Assessment and Evaluation
– Additional Web Resources
– Student Handouts
What do I like about it?
– The lesson plans provided are detailed and include any and all information needed.
– Student handouts within the lesson plans are engaging, easy to follow, simple and straight to the point.
– Games are engaging and do not frustrate the player. Although a couple of the games are more elementary (which doesn’t suit my needs, they may for someone else!).
– The Website if user friendly, organized, and easy to navigate – this is great for technology illiterate people like me!
– You can download financial literacy resources from the home page for free (choice of consumer materials or classroom materials – lesson plans that I have discussed). This is intended to help promote financial literacy.
– Has calculators to help determine what a person can buy. This includes calculators for buying cars, mortgages, family and life, and budget and goals. These are helpful and ask good questions to consider when saving or spending. If there might be a trouble question where a person does not know what it is or where to find that piece of information, there is a link below that can guide you to a description of what is being asked.
– Information sections are relevant to anyone and everyone. From planning for parenthood to buying a home, there is a section that can be relevant for anyone.
What do I dislike about it?
– The information pages do not provide extra resources if the reader wishes to look into that topic further. Also, I wish that the information pages had a bit more detailed information although I will give props that they are straight to the point.
– You must download the lesson plans as a whole. You cannot view it online to determine if you would like to download it or not. Also, you cannot download a section of a unit or lesson, you must download every single lesson and unit. Also, when you download the units, it downloads as a WinRAR, which is strange and difficult to use.
Where does this fit into the curriculum and how would I use it in my classroom?
This website can fit with a majority of LeBlanc’s Personal Finance 30 curriculum (if you care to search for all of it individually). For the articles, there is no easy to find section for any of the objectives or indicators, but any of them can be found using the search engine. One example of a resource that I found that is engaging and covers the basics of one of the objectives can be found here. This brochure can help to achieve objective PF (L) 2 which states: understand, analyze and apply the decision-making process as it relates to personal finance. This resource may not be very detailed but it does briefly cover a majority of the indicators and can serve as a reminder or review for students.
As for the lesson and unit plans, these can help to achieve the following objectives: PF (L) 2 (decision-making process), PF (L) 3 (banking), PF (L) 5 (budgeting), PF (L) 7 (credit options), PF (L) 8 (factors threatening one’s financial standing), and PF (L) 9 (purchasing, leasing, and renting). The lesson and unit plans may not cover exactly what is asked for in the curriculum but it is a great starting point and offers many great ideas.
In my classroom, I could use this online resource in a few different ways. One way that I could use this resource is to use the games as an end of unit/year practice to check students understanding of the material. If there is any extra or free time that students have, they can play these games or review the articles to help develop their understanding of the content. Another way that I could use this resource is by posting it onto my classroom website/blog for extra resources for students who would like to research particular topics further or need to deepen their understanding of the material. One other way that I could use this resource is to do either an individual or partner assignment where they must research a chosen topic. This resource, along with others, could be provided to students as a starting point. Once they have completed their research, they could present their findings and “teach” their peers this knowledge.
Overall evaluation of Practical Money Skills…
Overall, I found this website to be a great resource and will definitely use it in my teaching (more specifically the lesson plans, but I will use it nonetheless!). I would recommend any Personal Finance teacher (or anyone interested in the subject) to check out this resource as it provides great resources and information.
If I were to give this website a rating, I would give it a 9/10.