Research shows that teachers know financial literacy is an essential skill but may not know how to bring those lessons to students. To address this issue, Charles Schwab Foundation teamed up with DonorsChoose to inspire and uncover teachers’ best-in-class ideas for helping their students strengthen their financial literacy skills. We called on teachers across the country to submit their best ideas for introducing these key concepts to students, and financial literacy experts chose the most innovative projects. We asked the public to vote for their favorite project, and the winning teacher, Mrs. Galang, won $1,000.
Check out lesson plans for your class from our finalists below.
Finalists & Project Curriculum
Congratulations to Mrs. Galang, winner of our public voting!
Budgeting Our Virtual Field Trips Part 2
Mrs. Galang’s project requested a VR headset and classroom money kit so that her students could learn to build a budget for their (virtual) international field trips! This project is a part of a series. See the other parts here: Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4.
“With the VR standalone headset, the students will experience a virtual field trip by visiting historical landmarks at different time period around the world using the Google Expedition app. But before they can experience it, the students need to make a budget plan on how much money they will need to get to that place including the transportation fare, hotel accommodation and food.”
Congratulations to our other finalists below!
Invest in Us, so We Can Learn to Invest
“Financial wisdom begins with knowing that spending is all about choices and knowing you can’t have it all. I want my students to not only be able to recognize and understand coins, but also understand spending and saving.”
Financial Literacy: A Virtual Reality Bank Part Three
“What if we could teach our kids about the way a bank works by creating a bank inside our classroom and using Virtual Reality to become immersed inside the bank? Using two Samsung S7 phones as VR headsets and a microphone, we can create a bank where the money is stored and classroom bankers act as tellers!”
Teaching Kindergarteners Wants vs. Needs Through Dramatic Play
“By examining the concept of “needs vs. wants,” students learn that the things that make us happy are not necessarily things that cost money. Role playing real life scenarios will allow my students to become immersed and truly have a deeper understanding of financial literacy.”
Financial Literacy Disguised With Dinosaurs!
“I can’t think of a better way to engage my students than DINOSAURS! Students will have to complete a dinosaur-themed money and number activity in order to find the missing keys to the crates and save the classroom money and numbers from the dinosaurs.”
Becoming Penny Wise and Money Smart: Learning to Save $$$
Ms. Trochez MacLean | See the project
“A simulated micro-economy will help my students have ownership of our classroom community, while giving them real-world experiences where they will learn valuable skills, such as responsibility, the value of saving, and delayed gratification.”
Spending and Saving to Learn Financial Literacy
“My goal with this project is to teach my students an introduction into financial literacy. My students need the Spend and Save activities kit to help them understand how you can earn, spend, and save money.”
Wanted: Our First School Store
Mrs. Galary | See the project
“This school store will give our students a chance to open their own business. We will have to create hours, prices and track our sales. Students will learn the importance of earning and saving money and tickets.”
Food Truck Financial Literacy
“Students in our classroom will design and create a business model for their own food truck! Students will be able to practice area and perimeter math skills while developing their projects.”
Mission to Mars! Financial Literacy STEM Project
“This project will motivate our students to learn more about Mars, utilize their financial literacy skills and make real world connections. Students earn extra money for class participation, making wise choices, and doing their best work.”
In School Food-Truck Entrepreneurship Teaches Financial Literacy
“Students will create entrepreneurial experiences in designing a menu of items to sell as part of their class food truck project. Students will create, market and sell food truck dishes to sell in their school-based food-truck business with proceeds used to sustain the program and community service projects.”
Kitchen Lab Teaches More Than Just Cooking
Ms. Hernandez | See the project
“Our end goal is to guide our students to do things on their own. With this kitchen lab, we will go over safety, cleanliness, shopping, budgeting, planning, following directions, and so much more.”
Learn Financial Literacy by Designing Cost Effective Balsa Structures
“Students will need to come up with a project budget (including parts and labor) and compete to build models with the lowest cost to strength ratio. Combining engineering design principles with financial budgeting and financial efficiency will help students understand the skills they need for successful real-world engineering projects.”
It’s All About the Money… Money… Money
“The Explore Budgeting Curriculum will allow my students to practice skills such as monitoring their personal funds, view their expenses and learn how to spend wisely on things they need, rather than things they may want.”
Growing Our Education!
“In Growing Our Education, we are going to begin a year-long project that addresses several different areas of learning including personal finance and starting a business, science, and agriculture, and food handling to name a few.”
ExPRESSing a Need for Financial Literacy
Mrs. B | See the project
“Students will construct a business plan and market their shirt design ideas to staff, students, and families. Through this project, students will develop financial literacy, collaboration and communication skills, and a strong work ethic to achieve a goal.”
Vocational T-Shirt Time!
“My colleague and I will utilize the materials to start a student-run shop. Students will be in charge of making and selling custom made t-shirts, bags, and other goods utilizing a Cricut machine. All students will have the opportunity to practice multiple skills as the year progresses, and money earned will go towards new supplies.”
Show Me The Money! A Financial Literacy Video Project
“The students will create a “Show Me the Money” video series. Their videos will demonstrate how to comparison shop for a car, how to identify the best deal when applying for credit, and/or how to fill out an apartment rental application.”
Parenting Problems, Baby Please
Mrs. Riddle | See the project
“Having an electronic baby will greatly enhance our child development class. By exposing students to child development in high school the hope is that they will be more prepared and ready for the responsibilities associated with parenting when they are an adult.”
Developing Critical Thinking and Literacy Skills
“Students will read about economics through scenarios, work collaboratively to identify the key concepts and apply this knowledge to the content they are currently learning. Both of the books I am requesting will be used to introduce economic concepts to students in a format that they can easily understand and to build student understanding of economics through collaboration with their peers.”