Issues surrounding financial spending and saving have been dominating the news for months, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be disappearing any time soon. Yet explaining these issues to your child can often be difficult.
Information: With different sections targeting kids, parents, and teachers, the Mint is a great introductory site on economic and financial topics. The Mint highlights new and important vocabulary words and provides a definition when you place your cursor over the word without requiring you to click. This site does everything from helping decode a paycheck and explain savings accounts and earning interest to giving and safeguarding your money.
The parent portion provides topics to talk to kids about such as negotiating allowances and how to lead by example. The age guide they provide for when to talk to your children about issues may not be perfectly accurate for gifted children, but their guidelines help provide an outline for a progression of complexity. The teacher section is short, but it offers a few basic lesson plans on explaining introductory topics like budgeting, credit, and the stock market (see the sidebar for Web sites with more detailed lesson plans.)
Interactivity: The Mint’s website has a few quizzes to test your knowledge and understanding of the content explained on the site. Additionally, there are some activities that showcase how compound interest accumulates (for both savings and borrowing).
Overall: The site is completely text-based, but it is very informative about introducing basic-level knowledge on spending and saving. However, all the information with no guidance may seem overwhelming to someone not familiar with financial issues.
Information: This website explains much of the same content as the Mint but has an audio component and provides specific examples while explaining the concepts. The flow is similar to a school lesson with pauses for the user to enter his or her responses.
Interactivity: The lessons frequently stop for the user to enter a response, such as “how do you define wealth?” or “long-term goals.” However, because there are no “correct” answers, you can skip these questions if you want.
Overall: Users who prefer structure and audio to serve as an information guide will prefer the Dallas Fed’s site. However, fast readers and people familiar with some of the content may find the pacing a little slow. The glossary of terms is a useful reference for basic definitions of terms.
Information: The premise of this site is simple. Each person gets a million dollars (hypothetical, of course) to invest. The site allows you to form a group or a contest for multiple participants, which may be good for families or classes.
One note of caution: this site is not designed specifically for children; some of the discussion boards for existing groups may contain adult language.
Joining is free, but the site asks you to check whether you want to subscribe to any of their offers. You can say no to all of them if you like. Now, you are set to begin trading. The site allows you to buy, sell short, and mark stocks to follow without purchasing. The site also provides links to news stories about your stocks. Users make trades with real-time stock prices and receive daily email updates about their portfolio.
This site may be initially overwhelming to students new to investing, but it acts as a realistic capstone to all the content explained in the above Web sites.
—Matthew Makel, PhD
The Council for Economic Education offers an almost overwhelming number of different lessons and activities on economic issues. The website allows you to select the grade level of lesson you desire for different economic concepts. Additionally, teachers may appreciate the option of selecting lessons based on a set of national economic standards.
Each lesson contains an overview, an age range, and learning objectives. Many also include assignments and quizzes. The site does nearly all of the heavy lifting for you, providing you with an introduction, explanation, and activities. However, there is one thing to be aware of: the answers to questions and assignments are also provided on the same page. You’ll want to pay attention to how you present the information.