F_-Is-for-Finance

K-12 Student Financial Literacy Lesson Plans

With the constant flux of the world’s economy, future generations are practically guaranteed to encounter at least one financial downturn in their lifetimes. Educators play a significant role in equipping students with the skills and knowledge to make sound financial decisions, so they’re better able to weather future financial storms. The following resources include lesson plans, activities and educational tools for various age groups addressing topics related to the National Standards in K–12 Personal Finance Education.

Grade PK-4

It’s never too soon to start fostering financial literacy in children. Even pre-kindergarten kids can participate in simple activities and begin learning the fundamentals of exchanging money for goods and services. By 4th grade, students are able to grasp more complex concepts related to budgeting, borrowing and financial planning.


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Financial Responsibility and Decision Making

  • Bare Necessities – Helping Others — A foundational lesson plan for kindergarten students, “Bare Necessities – Helping Others” teaches students about basic needs and fosters an understanding of economic conditions in different areas of the world. A group activity, the class uses a poster board and pictures to categorize needs and wants, accompanied by a class discussion. Source: LearningtoGive.org
  • The Piggy Bank Primer — “The Piggy Bank Primer” is a story and series of activities for students in grades 3 to 5. This lesson teaches students a variety of basic economic concepts, such as saving, budgeting, investing, needs versus wants and other essential knowledge. Download the student workbook hereSource: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • Let’s Find Out About Money — Students use coins to solve word problems, learning concepts of mathematics while also developing an understanding of the value of various coins. Students will be able to identify the physical attributes of coins and the value of the penny, nickel, dime and quarter upon completion of this lesson. Source: Utah Education Network

Income and Careers

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  • Common Cents: Beyond the Lemonade Stand — A lesson plan focused on entrepreneurship, “Common Cents: Beyond the Lemonade Stand” teaches students about the process of planning and launching a business through a group reading and discussion, followed by a worksheet activity. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
  • What Do I Want to be When I Grow Up? — Students think of the many careers they’re aware of by identifying what people in their lives do for a living, generating an awareness of the variety of career options available. Students identify the career they’d like to pursue when they grow up and explain why they chose this path. Source: Power to Learn
  • You’re Hired — This lesson is a collaborative activity between 2nd or 3rd grade students and 5th grade students. In a role-playing activity, younger students act as job applicants and older students fill the role of hiring manager. Students learn about the importance of educational achievements in attaining career goals while language arts competencies are integrated in the writing component. Source: Oklahoma Career Tech

Planning and Money Management

  • Delivering the Goods — “Delivering the Goods” is an interactive activity to teach students in grades K to 2 the differences between goods and services. Students answer a series of questions in a computer-based activity, and upon completion are asked to identify names of local goods and services providers. Source: Econ EdLink
  • Spending Goals — An easy lesson to implement, this worksheet asks students to identify their goals for short-term and long-term spending, as well as sharing goals. This lesson teaches students the value of budgeting and the value of giving to charity. Source: Scholastic
  • Let’s Go Shopping — This online activity for 3rd graders gets students engaged by creating real-world scenarios that teach the principles of spending and estimating. Students are given $50 and asked to shop for items they want, using the principle of estimation to stay within the budget. Source: Beacon Learning Center

Credit and Debt

  • Using Credit and Spending Money Wisely — “Using Credit and Spending Money Wisely” is a lesson plan designed for 4th grade students. The lesson ties into the book Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Students learn about earning money, costs, spending money and making wise spending decisions, and credit. Source: Take Charge America
  • Debit or Credit – You Decide — A comprehensive lesson plan designed for fourth grade or upper-elementary students, “Debit or Credit – You Decide” takes students through a series of activities to teach the concepts of credit and borrowing money. Students will weigh the advantages and disadvantages of borrowing funds or paying with cash in different scenarios. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
  • Not for a Billion Gazillion Dollars — In this lesson, students apply critical thinking skills to analyze a story about a boy who borrowed money, ended up in financial trouble and worked his way out of debt by saving his allowance and paying off his obligations. The simple story explains concepts and ramifications of debt in an easy-to-digest way for students in this age group. Source: Money Management International

Risk Management and Insurance

  • The Pickle Patch Bathtub — “The Pickle Patch Bathtub” is a lesson best used with children between the ages of 7 and 8. In this lesson, students learn that every spending decision has an opportunity cost. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
  • Understanding and Managing Risks — PwC’s Financial Literacy Curriculum includes an introductory lesson for grades 3 to 5. Students develop an understanding of the primary risks that exist in the typical household and the concepts of insurance, lawsuits, and libel. Source: Pricewaterhouse Coopers
  • Booker T. Washington “50 Cents and a Dream” — This is a lesson built around Booker T. Washington and his quest to obtain the financial resources needed to get the education he desired. The story and activity also challenges students to make connections between history and economics. Students examine the cost-benefit ratio in the accompanying worksheet and discussion. Source:  Econ EdLink

Saving and Investing


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  • Saving — Students complete a worksheet about monetary equivalencies and participate in role-play activities in which they save or borrow money. Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to recognize coins and bills as well as explain various concepts, such as saving, interest, the role of banks, and different ways people pay for goods and services. Source: Take Charge America Financial Education Academy
  • The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money — In this lesson, the class reads The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money book and then participates in group activities to develop an understanding of incomes, spending for goods and services, and the concept of saving money for future purchases. Students will also make critter banks to save their own money. Source: University of Missouri – St. Louis
  • Savings Accounts and U.S. Savings Bonds — Students examine different savings options, including savings accounts and U.S. savings bonds, and develop an understanding of interest and face values. Students will be able to articulate the benefits of savings and investing. Source: Pathway to Financial Success

Grade 5-8

Grades 5 through 8 are ideal for teaching students about budgeting and planning for major expenses, valuable skills that will serve them well throughout life. This is also a good age group in which to begin encouraging students to think about college and more seriously consider potential career paths.

Financial Responsibility and Decision Making


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  • It’s Your Future! — Students learn how education and skills impact future career choices, develop an understanding of budgeting for big expenses and learn about interest and loans as options for purchasing big-ticket items such as a home. Source: Thirteen Ed Online
  • You’re Going to College — Students evaluate the potential rewards of a college education, as well as the risks and opportunity cost of attending school for four years as opposed to entering the workforce after high school. Students will learn the approximate costs of a year of college education and examine the costs and benefits of college financing options. Source: Econ EdLink
  • What Can I Afford? — Students graph the rate plans offered by various cell phone companies in order to determine which option is truly the most affordable. Students also compare different types of bank accounts in order to select the option that yields the most returns, providing an introduction to interest and furthering understanding of savings. Source: Thirteen EdOnline

Income and Careers

  • Does Money Grow on Trees? — A suitable lesson plan for students in grades 7 through 9, “Does Money Grow on Trees?” is a comprehensive set of lessons and activities that address several financial literacy standards. Upon completing the various activities and worksheets included in these lessons, students will be able to differentiate between jobs and careers, understand the importance of building a career, and understand the impact of education level on career prospects and more. Source: Maryland State Department of Education
  • Financial Wizard — This lesson, designed for middle school students, is an interactive activity in which students choose a career among a few options, calculate their income, and with the goal of saving enough to make a specific purchase, plan a budget based on earnings, taxes and spending. Source: Mint.com 
  • Career Exploration Lessons for Sixth and Seventh Grades — This robust series of lessons is targeted to 6th and 7th grade students, addressing a variety of national standards in various disciplines. Students learn to identify their strengths and weaknesses, set career goals, learn the importance of planning and create their own career plans. Source: Learning for Life

Planning and Money Management


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  • Lessons: Grades 7 and 8 — For students in grades 7 and 8, this series of middle school lessons provides a logical sequence of activities and resources to guide students through financial literacy essentials. Students learn about buying a home, borrowing and budgeting, credit scores, saving and investing. Source: Practical Money Skills for Life
  • Money Math: Lessons for Life — This sequence of lessons includes a variety of real-world scenarios that allow students to explore the application of mathematics within a practical, real-life context. Students plan out how to save their way to being a millionaire, develop an understanding of income taxes and basic calculations to determine take-home pay, and develop budgeting skills. Source: TreasuryDirect 
  • Paying Bills — A lesson that equips students with the skills for writing checks, allocating funds to pay bills and satisfy pending checks, best practices for writing checks and other essential bill-paying skills. This lesson is designed for students in 7th grade and above. Source: Money Instructor

Credit and Debt


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  • Budgeting, Debt and Savings Interest — This lesson is targeted to the 7th grade standards, although it is suitable for use with 6th and 8th grade students as well. In this activity, students learn the importance of budgeting to avoid accumulating debt and to avoid bad credit issues. Source: Teachers.net
  • The Business of Credit — Students gain an understanding of credit and how consumers can use it to purchase goods and services. The concepts of good credit versus bad credit are explored, and students apply this knowledge to the scenario of a business owner who must borrow funds to expand. Source: Thirteen EdOnline
  • Cards, Cars and Currency — A series of five lessons, “Cards, Cars and Currency” is a full unit’s worth of activities that build upon one another to provide students with a thorough understanding of the lending process, how to determine whether you should borrow funds for a purchase, how credit cards work and other essential credit knowledge. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Risk Management and Insurance

  • Understanding Risk and Return — This worksheet lesson is an introduction to the concept of risk and return, ideally for 7th grade students, although it may be modified to accommodate varying grade levels. Students gain an understanding that bigger risks typically have the potential for larger returns, and that investments and risks sometimes mean losing money. Source: MoneyInstructor.com
  • CIB – Risk Assessment — Students investigate risk assessments from an entrepreneurial standpoint, developing an understanding of the importance of evaluating both benefits and risks to influence decision-making for major life choices, such as career and financial decisions. Source: Utah Education Network
  • Car Insurance Lesson — Students will complete a worksheet evaluating the different factors to consider when selecting car insurance after receiving an introduction to basic liability insurance and the need for drivers to be insured. Source: MoneyInstructor.com

Saving and Investing

  • Beatrice’s Goat — Meeting the Council on Economic Education’s (CEE)’s Scarcity standard, “Beatrice’s Goat” uses a hypothetical scenario to provide a context for students to understand the concepts of opportunity cost and the cost of savings decisions. Students learn what savings means and develop a savings budget to meet family goals, working through a series of problems to determine how much additional money a family would need to save in order to reach the savings goal. Source: Federal Reserve Education
  • Saving and Investing: Making Our Money Grow — Designed for students in grades 6 through 8, “Savings and Investing: Making Our Money Grow” teaches students how investing small amounts of money over time can grow substantially. Students devise a savings plan that would accumulate enough over time to fund a four-year college program. Source: Pricewaterhouse Cooper
  • Introduction to Earning Interest — In this activity, students will learn and be able to use investment terminology, explain and calculate compound interest, and make informed investment decisions based on available options. Source: SaveandInvest.org

Grade 9-12

In grades 9 through 12, high school students are beginning to think seriously about future career plans and where they’d like to attend college. It’s critical to instill solid financial values and skills at this stage to prepare students to enter the real world.

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Financial Responsibility and Decision Making

  • Financial Management Lesson Plans and Power Points — FFA.org offers a series of lessons on financial planning and financial management for high school students. Lessons cover topics such as needs/wants analysis, budgeting, goal setting, the concept of paying yourself first, credit and lending, and more. Source: National FFA Organization
  • Practical Money Skills: Lessons: Grades 9-12 — PracticalMoneySkills.com provides a comprehensive unit with lesson plans covering every aspect of financial planning education for high school students. Students gain proficiency with goal setting, budgeting for household expenses, managing roommates, buying a car, investing and more. Source: PracticalMoneySkills.com
  • The Hows of Taxes — With more lesson plans to choose from than a teacher can possibly use, this resource from the IRS is a goldmine for instructors who need lesson plans related to taxes, such as how taxes influence behavior, the basics of filing, income taxes and how taxes affect us, and more. Source: IRS

Income and Careers

  • Barbie in the Labor Force — This lesson plan fosters an understanding of the role of resources in determining income while reviewing the historical trends of women in the workforce. Students evaluate the career options Barbie represented over the years within the historical context as well as the social influences that impacted opportunities for women in the workforce. Source: Federal Reserve Education
  • How to Get a First Job — In this engaging activity, students create mind maps to plan their future careers. Students’ maps will include details such as hourly wage, time clocks, income taxes and other financial information that must be considered in paid employment and career prospects. Source: HotChalk Lesson Plans Page 
  • Careers — This resource provides a full unit of lesson plans covering career essentials for high school students in grades 9 and 10. Students will investigate multiple careers and analyze career options against their own personality and skillsets. Source: CollegeBoard

Planning and Money Management


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  • Budget Making — This comprehensive budget-making lesson plan takes approximately four to six 50-minute class periods and addresses standards across multiple disciplines including language arts, math, technology and social studies. Students develop an understanding of public services, such as healthcare and education, and how these programs are funded by the government through taxes. Students will learn that savings are what is left of income after taxes and spending, and construct their own budgets for different purposes. This lesson plan can be adapted to different grade levels. Source: PBS Kids
  • Money Smart for Youth — This program has 8 modules and is offered free of charge, designed to be used with students between the ages of 12 and 20. This unit is aligned with educational standards in all 50 states and is useful in a variety of settings, including by a certified educator as a unit or as a supplement to education in language arts, mathematics or another discipline. Students learn banking and borrowing basics, budgeting, and paying for homes, college and cars. Source: FDIC
  • Building Your Future — This curriculum is available from the Actuarial Foundation and covers three major areas in personal finance and financial literacy: Banking, financing, and investing. Teachers can register and request materials free of charge to teach students the fundamentals of checking and savings accounts, insurance and loans, and bonds, stocks and other investment options. Source: Actuarial Foundation

Credit and Debt

Risk Management and Insurance

  • Risk Management — This lesson plan emphasizes risks from the entrepreneur’s perspective, including how entrepreneurs recognize, transfer and share risk. Students select insurance policies from a number of options based on the risk scenarios presented. Source: Council for Economic Education
  • National FFA Risk Management Lesson Plans — This risk management lesson plan is a high-level plan in which students will develop an understanding of the six types of risks, five ways to handle risks, and be able to explain the need for risk management planning. Source: National FFA Organization 
  • Let’s Get Financially Focused! — This lesson plan is designed for students in grades 9 through 12, covering a range of concepts related to personal finance – including fraud and identity theft, important knowledge for students in today’s digital world. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Saving and Investing


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  • The Secret to Becoming a Millionaire — Students work through a series of mathematical exercises to learn how savings can create wealth over time. Students will learn about investing, compound interest rates, and the opportunity cost of saving, among other valuable skills and mathematics reinforcement. Note that this lesson, Lesson 1, is found on page 17 and teachers may choose to follow through with the additional lessons provided to strengthen mathematical comprehension. Source: TreasuryDirect
  • Financing Your Future — A video series produced by CitiGroup in cooperation with the Council on Economic Education, Financing Your Future is a series of five videos and related activities that teach students about human capital, how to invest in themselves and further their education to increase their potential earnings, developing a banking relationship to effectively manage credit and debt and more. Source: CitiGroup and the Council for Economic Education
  • Money Skills for Newlywed Couples — A series of lessons and activities presented in the context of advice to newlywed couples, many teachers use this resource and pair students to complete the activities together as a pseudo couple. While the high school setting was not the original intention of this resource when it was created, educators have found it useful and the State of Indiana now recommends it as a lesson plan resource for teachers. Source: Indiana.gov

More Financial Literacy Resources for Teachers

If you’re like most educators, you probably evaluate every possible lesson and resource, making modifications as needed to suit your purposes and meet accepted standards. Check out the National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education, created by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, for a full description of standards, benchmarks and other important details.  

The Council for Economic Education also outlines National Standards for Financial Literacy based on a similar framework, broken down into the 4th, 8th and 12th grade levels of what students are expected to understand in relation to each competency.


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Here are additional valuable resources.

  • Buddy Bargain and the Gang — A comprehensive series of lessons for students in grade 4, Buddy Bargain and the Gang demonstrates a variety of concepts according to the National Standards in K–12 Personal Finance Education. Students learn about earning money, careers in the family, saving, and an introduction to budgeting. Source: Financial Foundations for Kids
  • Hands on Banking — This collection of lesson plans is configured in sequence to teach students the basics of money values through earning power, planning and creating budgets, balancing checking accounts, and sound financial decision-making capabilities based on real-world scenarios. Source: HandsonBanking.org
  • Finance in the Classroom — One of the largest collections of personal finance and financial literacy lesson plans, Finance in the Classroom offers a variety of resources for varying grade levels.
  • National Council on Economic Education — A list of lesson plans approved by the National Council on Economic Education. All lesson plans listed here meet at least one standard in financial literacy, and the list is searchable by concept, grade level, standard and other filters.
  • Econ EdLink — Search the website for a variety of lesson plans, resources for educators, articles and other information related to financial literacy. Econ EdLink is a website of the Council for Economic Education.
  • Educator Resources – Lesson Plans — Find financial literacy lesson plans by grade level between grades 1 through 5, and visit partner websites for middle school and high school resources. This website is a service of Take Charge America.

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