Wednesday, May 30, 2007

FREE Practical Money Skills educational materials

Want to teach your kids about money but don't know where to begin? Go to and click "Classroom Resources" and "Download 2 CD-Rom set (75" to download and burn to a CD (cd burning software required - usually comes with a home computer), or just load right on your computer.

Some of it is repeated material. For example, the "Practical Money Skills for Life CD-ROM" is the same as Disc 2 of the classroom resources. There is also a pamphlet series, but it has only general info and I consider it more of an introduction to the more detailed lesson plans.

Disc 1 is where the good stuff is. It contains lesson plans for kids in 5 groups, preschool-2nd grade, grade 3-6, 7-12, graduates and college students, and a special needs section (the addition of this last section scored big points with me). The Macromedia Flash interface they give you is a bit clunky. Basically all the material is in html, pdf, and powerpoint files. You might find it easier to just browse the files in the directories themselves, print the pdfs and htmls, and load the powerpoints manually (I couldn't get the Flash interface to launch the powerpoint presentations). Disc 2 has some practical but basic info for financial situations you might encounter at home, all in html format. There are also some games that kids might enjoy, but the only one I tried at length was the Quiz.

It wasn't very good, and some of the information wasn't quite correct. The credit card section also didn't quiz on the most important aspects of credit cards - reading and understanding the terms. It was also very flashy and loud, and not in a good way. I would stick with disc 1.

Also, its very disorganized and difficult to find the referenced materials. Although you can download the lesson plans to a CDROM, it doesn't contain just about all of the actual materials needed to learn anything. For that you apparently need to download them individually from here . There also did not appear to be any way to take the quizzes without being online.

Even so, the lesson plans are a useful guide, but expect to do most of the actually learning materials on your own. If anyone has had any experience with this program, please share it. For the conspiratorial among us, this program was created by VISA.

Also available is the Jump$tart Coalition, an education program for children who recently issued tests of financial literacy. It is sponsored by Citibank. If there are any consumer financial awareness/education programs out there that are not created by credit card companies, please let me know.

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