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Money, Banking & Financial Markets Activities for High School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Helping high school students form a better understanding of money, banking, and financial markets will make them more competent and critical citizens. This lesson offers activities that will support your instruction around these themes.

Teaching Economics in High School

No matter how your instruction includes the study of economics, facilitating a deeper understanding of money and markets in your students is an important part of your job.

First of all, when students understand money, banking, and financial markets, they are better equipped to set personal financial goals and achieve them thoughtfully. Secondly, students with a strong understanding of these aspects of economics will have a more nuanced perspective on current events and history.

Teaching students about money, banking, and financial markets will be more memorable if you incorporate activities into your instruction. The activities in this lesson appeal to a variety of learning styles and strengths while helping students understand these themes.

Money Activities

The activities in this section are oriented specifically toward helping students learn more about money.

Personal and Family Budgets

Part of learning about money means learning how to budget appropriately. Have students work in partnerships for this activity. Give each pair a hypothetical personal or family income to think about.

Have them list all of their monthly expenditures and figure out a budget that would work for their salary. They should find a way to represent their income and expenditures graphically. Let students share their graphics and discuss similarities and differences among budget possibilities and priorities, as well as challenges in budgeting.

Making Sense of Currency

As students come to understand money as it relates to broader financial markets, they will need an understanding of currency and how it works. In partnerships, assign students a set of five to ten countries to think about. They should research the following questions:

  • What currency is used in that country?
  • What other currencies have historically been used?
  • How does that currency relate to other currencies in the world?

Have students make tables representing their findings, then let them share and discuss their tables with others in the class.

Banking Activities

Here, you will find activities that let students understand what banking is and why it matters.

Act Out Personal Banking

Part of learning about banking means understanding the specific personal transactions someone needs to make with a bank over the course of daily life. Have students work in small groups for this activity and assign each group a banking task to research.

For instance, they might learn about opening an account, getting a loan, or even simply making a withdrawal. They should research what goes into this kind of transaction, then write a short skit that enacts what they have learned. Finally, let students present their skits for classmates and discuss what they learned about banking in the process.

History of Banking

Another facet of understanding banking has to do with learning the history of different banks as well as international structures like the IMF and World Bank. In small groups, have students select either a broader banking structure or a specific bank to research.

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