Educators from across the Federal Reserve Bank’s Tenth District recognize that basic personal finance and economics knowledge can set the foundation for students’ further understanding of the topics. Incorporating vocabulary and project-based learning activities into curriculum for students of all ages can help them to develop this knowledge.

Digging into Vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is often a first step in mastering a concept, and Trent Goldsmith, secondary-level Economics/Business Education teacher at Waverly High School in Waverly, Neb., and Nebraska Wesleyan University Honors Instructor in Economics/Accounting, stresses that it’s key to opening the door to more “fun” activities. Knowing basic finance terminology allows a deeper exploration of a concept, such as not just talking about money, but decision-making behaviors.

Kansas City Fed economic education manager Jennifer Clark agrees that an easy way to learn the basics of personal finance and economics is through building vocabulary. The Bank’s Fifty Nifty and Core Concept Cards are great resources for this. 

“These resources take those main concepts at appropriate grade levels and give educators a fun and easy way to integrate the vocabulary in the classroom," she said. "Whether it's creating an economic word wall in elementary language arts or using the online flash cards at a high school level, these two resources help reinforce economic and financial basics."

Joy Marts, Instructional Coach at Delaware Ridge Elementary in Kansas City, Kan., stresses the importance of first addressing terms like “needs” and “wants” with elementary students. Distinguishing the difference between items needed for survival and items that are simply desired, is crucial in order for students to make wise decisions in the future. 

“At the elementary level, students need to understand needs and wants, and that most everything in life involves choices,” Marts said. “Overall, students truly need to understand that their choices have (both positive and negative) consequences.”

Applying the Concepts

Aside from learning introductory vocabulary, Business Education teacher Jacqueline Larson from Platte Valley High School in Kersey, Colo., believes in investing in project-based learning activities and situations centered around saving, spending, planning, budgeting and more.

“Be able to understand and apply economic terms and basic concepts,” Larson said.

Clark suggests that an easy way to start for a variety of subject areas or ages is to utilize an economic “word of the week”, allowing students either write or draw examples of the concept in application. The concept can then be added to spelling tests or a word wall to reinforce the concepts further.

For More Information

To learn more about economic and personal finance resources to set the stage for students’ learning, see this roundup of resources or search for resources on the left side of this page.  

Do you have tried and true suggestions for integrating these concepts in your classroom? If so, share them with us via email, and we might use them in a future edition of our Teacher Talk Planner.

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