New Curriculum Helps Children Learn Sound Financial Habits

ISU Extension and Outreach offers free Financial Literacy Lesson Plans (K-5) curriculum

April 18, 2019, 10:07 am | Cynthia Needles Fletcher, Laura Sternweis

Adult reading to children by Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com.AMES, Iowa – Children are more likely to build money management skills and develop sound financial habits when what they learn at school is reinforced at home. A new curriculum from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach helps teachers and parents work together to increase financial literacy in Iowa youth.

The Financial Literacy Lesson Plans (Grades K-5) curriculum is available for free download from the ISU Extension Store, either by grade level or as an entire K-5 curriculum. The curriculum addresses the financial literacy content and skills that are part of both the State of Iowa’s 21st Century and Social Studies standards.

“This curriculum gives K–5 educators the tools they need to teach financial literacy in ways that are both developmentally appropriate and engaging for elementary students,” said Cynthia Needles Fletcher, a professor and extension specialist in human development and family studies.

The curriculum builds reading and vocabulary skills. Most of the lessons feature reading and discussion of a storybook as the main activity, with supplemental activities to extend learning and initiate discussions at home. The curriculum also reinforces a number of math standards, Fletcher said. Students get to apply mathematical thinking related to money and financial literacy concepts.

The lessons can be taught in fewer than 30 minutes, in most cases, making it easy to fit a lesson into the school day. Lessons can be taught in sequence at each grade level; however, each lesson also can stand alone. An educator doesn’t have to teach any one lesson prior to teaching another lesson at any grade level, Fletcher said.

“Much of what a teacher can do with these lessons happens in the classroom, but another important part happens at home, because home is where children pick up financial habits, attitudes and norms that will guide their financial behavior as adults,” Fletcher said. “Each lesson includes a section we’ve called ‘Home Talk.’ It’s information that teachers can share with parents or guardians so that they can revisit and reinforce the lesson’s concepts with their children.”

Glenda Seward, a learning design coach in Iowa’s Mid-Prairie Community School District, prepared the curriculum, which Fletcher reviewed. Seward holds Iowa teaching endorsements for Elementary Education, K–8, and Family and Consumer Sciences, 6-12; and has National Board Certification in Career and Technical Education: Secondary Family and Consumer Sciences.

“Glenda and I thank the K–5 teachers in the Mid-Prairie elementary schools who gave their time and talents for pilot testing the lessons and providing feedback to improve the end product,” Fletcher said.

The Iowa Insurance Division provided some financial support for the project.

Photo credit: Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com

Audio file available: For use in 2019
Transcript. Cynthia Needles Fletcher: “Much of what a teacher can do with these lessons happens in the classroom, but another important part happens at home, because home is where children pick up financial habits, attitudes and norms that will guide their financial behavior as adults. Each lesson includes a section we’ve called ‘Home Talk.’ It’s information that teachers can share with parents or guardians so that they can revisit and reinforce the lesson’s concepts with their children.”

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