First, some lessons in basic economics. For elementary and middle school students, most economics Web sites deal with concrete subjects such as coins and bills. For instance, H.I.P. Pocket Change from the U.S. Mint has light features like games, cartoon, coloring pages, as well as a more informational timeline that ties money in with history. At the
One site that aims to teach kids how markets work is MinyanLand. The site, (which requires free registration, including parent’s email), aspires to a very lofty mission: “to help address the gap between classes created in part by the financial illiteracy of many in our country, if not the world.” Players choose a character and receive $50,000 in MinyanMoney and a condo worth $50,000. They can increase their virtual bank balance by “doing real-life chores your parents assign,” playing games, and keeping their creature healthy. They can also spend money at the mall, renovate their home, invest, and earn “incentives” for charitable giving. The site is a joint project of Minyanville (a private financial “infotainment” site featuring articles for families on explaining “depressing times,” afterschool jobs and allowances); the non-profit National Council on Economic Education (which offers classroom resources, many free); and the Kaboose network of family Web sites.
For tweens and teens most money sites talk about budgets, credit and spending wisely. Don't Buy It, a companion site to the PBS series, focuses on media and shopping smarts for 9- to 11-year-olds. It All Adds Up is somewhat creaky, decade-old interactive site that lets high school students see what it’s like to use credit to buy cars, electronics and other consumer items. I Buy Different comes from The Center for a New American Dream and the World Wildlife Fund. It helps kids make connections between the products they use and the environment, and suggestions actions they can take to make a difference in their community and across the globe. Many more wonderful links from places like MIT, the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Federal Reserve Bank of
Finally, financial news outlets for adults can also help parents understand and explain what’s going on. Marketplace Public Radio recently spoke with Kiplinger's Janet Bodnar, for example, whose column “Money Smart Kids” has many useful pointers in its archives. The Motley Fool’s newspaper column and website explains stock market happenings in understandable terms, and MSN Money Central contains a useful section with tips on bargains and freebies that will help you and your kids save money. All these resources can be helpful to turn to during these tough times.
Family Online Picks
Wall Street Journal Work and Family Column http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122220949327768879.html
H.I.P. Pocket Change http://www.usmint.gov/kids/
Social Studies for Kids www.socialstudiesforkids.com/subjects/economics.htm
Don't Buy It http://pbskids.org/dontbuyit/
It All Adds Up http://www.italladdsup.org/
I Buy Different www.ibuydifferent.org
Marketplace Public Radio http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/09/26/economy_and_kids/
Money Smart Kids http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/kids/archive.html
Motley Fool http://www.fool.com/
MSN Money Central http://moneycentral.msn.com/home.asp