Field Trips: Teaching Financial Literacy Everyday – Part 1

girl and money

As a financial consultant and creator of interactive financial education experiences, I enjoy the learning that takes place when children experience financial concepts, terminology, and strategies first hand.  You don’t have to be a financial professional to begin teaching your children financial literacy.  In fact, you are your child’s first financial advisor and educator. The financial transactions your child observes you making can greatly influence your child’s financial future.

Look for opportunities during your daily routines to engage children in financial and business transactions.  Below are some examples that you can use to create memorable experiences.  Some of these I still remember from my childhood:

Financial transactions during meals… when ordering a meal at a restaurant with a cashier, give the child cash to make their meal purchase. Make sure they have more cash than the cost of the meal. Allow them to approach the counter alone and interact with the cashier by ordering their meal, exchanging their cash for their order, and receiving change.  After receiving their meal, ask if they got what they ordered.

A few tips to prepare the child for making their meal purchase:

  • Discuss what the child wants to order and make sure they identify the total cost for their meal (drink, dessert, etc.)
  • Ask them how many dollars is needed to buy their meal.
  • Remind them to wait for their change after giving their money to the cashier.
  • Do a practice run allowing the child to tell you what they plan to order.


Financial Life Lessons & Teachable Moments

There may be an occasion when the child does not receive the correct change.  In this instance, discuss with the child the correct change due. Then, instruct the child to go back to the counter and inform the cashier that they did not receive the correct change and ask for the correct amount. Be there to support the child, but allow the child to talk with the cashier directly to correct the issue.

During the first experience, you and the child will both be nervous but after a few attempts your child will feel very confident communicating with adults and handling everyday basic financial transactions when making a purchase.

In another scenario, you can set a limit the child can spend that requires them to make a decision about what items they can afford with the money you’ve provided.  For example, the child may have to order the free cup of water rather than a non-free drink to fit within their budget.

Try these suggestions with your students or children! Let’s continue the financial life lessons and teachable moments!

Linsey Mills

Callinz Group

Managing Director



Reaching Higher- Teaching Kids to Set Goals


New Year’s Day is coming soon and many people will be setting new goals. Ideally, goals should be set year round but this is a great time to address the topic.

A great way to teach kids about setting goals is to encourage them to think about what they want to achieve and create a project centered around it. 

On our website, in the Sample Lessons tab, you will see an activity called “SMART Goals.” This lesson explains the meaning of SMART goals and uses the “Making the Basket” game to apply the concept. The game encourages students to create goals and to take ownership in achieving it.

Kids can be taught goals in this same manner.

When students create their own goals, they have a stake in the project. However, they can also learn by achieving goals created by their teachers and school.

Below is a suggestion for addressing goals in your educational program and at home.

  1. Have a class meeting for students to create a goal.
    • Refer to our “Smart Goals” Sample Lesson for how to create and process a “SMART Goal.”
  2. Once the goal is created, break students into small groups to brainstorm how they will achieve the goal.
  3. Have each group present their ideas and vote on the best one.
    • For example, if students want to fundraise for a class trip, maybe they want to create a talent show and sell tickets to the community.
  4. Start planning how to achieve the goal.
  5. Execute the plan!

Kids Give and Get the Feeling

kid giving

Every December, since the first grade, my mother and I would put pennies into rolls, and cash them at the bank. I would take the money and buy Christmas gifts for my family. This taught me the value of money and the gift of giving.

I would get excited when my parents took me to the store to purchase gifts for my family. The feeling I got when my family opened the gifts I purchased was indescribable.

In the article, “The Neuroscience of Giving,” by Dr. Eva Ritvo, she says giving boosts “neurochemical drivers of happiness.” These drivers are dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.

Dopamine affects emotions, motivation, and the experience of pleasure. Normal levels of serotonin can promote feelings of comfort, happiness, and well-being. Oxytocin naturally increases self-esteem, trust, and the bonding experience.

So, you see why my feelings as a child were indescribable during Christmas?

Let’s encourage our students/children to give this holiday so they can “GET THE FEELING”.

Giving does not have to come in gifts. Below are other ways to give…

  1. Gift of Time – being present with those you love and/or like
  2. Gift of Touch-giving someone a hug
  3. Gift of Labor-volunteering to help others
  4. Gift of Friendship- being there for your friend
  5. Gift of Art-creating something and giving it away
  6. Gift of Teaching- to show or explain something new to others

Happy Giving!!!


Volunteers: Let’s Keep Them!

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How do you keep volunteers? You show them value. In other words, let them use their gifts, talents, and skills to benefit your students. Ask them how they WANT to assist you and what they want to experience while volunteering with your organization. Then, listen to how they can be an asset to your organization.

For example, an Education major may want to facilitate innovative lesson plans they created with your students. A computer programmer professional may want to create a computerized program that will educate your students on anti-bullying tactics or goal-setting.

Yes, you may have other duties you need completed. However, try to take care of their needs first. You may find once their needs are met, they are happy to meet yours.

In the past, I always thought about what volunteers could give to our organization and the youth we serve.

However, once I started to show our volunteers value, it became an enjoyable experience for them and our youth.  I also retained their services for longer periods of time. Additionally, I received great ideas from our volunteers because they felt their opinions mattered.

Try it out and see if it works for you!


Volunteers: Let’s Bring Them In!

helping had

Last month, I was speaking to an After-School Program Director by phone. While inquiring about our curricula, she mentioned being the only instructor for her program. I assumed hiring more instructors was not in the organization’s budget.

So, I asked her, “Do you live near a university or college?”

She said “yes” and named three colleges that were nearby. I advised her to call those schools and ask for the Community Services/Outreach and Education major departments.

Most colleges have Community Services/Outreach departments because they want to have a positive relationship with their community. You can speak with or email the department director or coordinator and communicate your need for a volunteer. In my experience, the coordinator usually requests a paragraph explaining the need for a volunteer and they will distribute the information throughout the college.

In college, I was a Bonner Scholar, which is a service based scholarship. We were required to get 10 hours of community service each week.

While in graduate school, I had the Master in Business students volunteer with me to teach financial literacy in local schools.

Education majors are always looking for opportunities to work with youth. You can speak to the head of the department and inform them of your volunteer opportunities. Maybe the volunteers can create lesson plans and share new innovative teaching and learning techniques.

Bonus Tip: If you have younger students, you can call local high schools and request volunteers. As a member of the National Honor Society in high school, we were required to get community service hours as well. Typically, the high school guidance counselor can assist you.

Bonus Tip 2: If you don’t live near a college or university, contact local churches, local businesses,(some businesses give employees time off to volunteer) your friends, and family.

I have even found volunteers at the gym!

Happy Recruiting!


Interactive Physical Activity that will Amuse and Educate your Family

family fun

Physical activity can be a fun learning experience, especially when everyone in the family is trying something new. Children will most likely model what their parents do. If children see parents being physical, then they will most likely follow this lifestyle in the future.

 Parents that are active can teach their children so many life skills.  Parents can also learn from doing physical activities with their children.

Let’s say a family decides to do a new activity together such as rock climbing.

Rock climbing requires decision-making skills because you have to decide the path that reaches the top.

It incorporates problem solving skills where you may decide to take a different path because your first course of action failed. Furthermore, family members are cheering and encouraging each other to climb higher.

This is teamwork!

If you don’t want to leave home, try the activity below. Enjoy learning and being physical with your family!

  1. Tell your family you will have a game night of Charades!
  2. You can play the game two ways…
  3. Divide the family into two teams.
  4. Have one person on the team guess and the other person act out or use pantomime to represent the word.
  5. If the team guesses the word, then they will get a point.
  6. Or you can have one family member at a time act and the other family members guess the word.
  7. The family member that guesses the word will get a point.
  8. Choose categories that will be really physical and incorporate learning…
    • Strange Animals such as a Featherless Chicken
    • Unusual Sports such as Chess Boxing
  9. Since these categories will be unfamiliar, have a list of the names near the game (optional).
  10. Record the points and have fun!



A Stimulating Physical Activity that Leads to Learning

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Physical activity increases learning because it increases blood flow to the brain. Blood flow to the brain increases oxygen which heightens alertness.  Examples of interactive activities that incorporate movement are games, role plays, and learning stations within the classroom.

When students are physical and learning simultaneously, they are using multiple functions. They are activating their sense of hearing, seeing, and touching.   If the students are creating a role play or campaign, they are using all their senses and being innovative, which stimulates the brain.

Physical activity has a way of bringing laughter, if it’s fun. It can also bring a since of accomplishment, if it’s challenging.  Physical activity before or after learning something new is beneficial. If exercise is done before learning, then your brain is more alert to receive the information. If exercise is done after learning, then it helps your brain process the information. If possible, try to incorporate some physical activity in your class. Below is a way to do it!

  1. Have your class stand in a line or a circle (instructor’s choice).
  2. Tell each student they will lead the class in a physical activity.
  3. Examples are
    • Waving hands above head
    • Low kicks
    • Twisting body
    • Touching toes
  4. Each student has 20 seconds to lead the class in their activity of choice.
  5. After 20 minutes is up, say “Switch”
  6. The next student will lead the class in their activity.
  7. At the end of this activity, your brains should be ready to learn!
  8. You can also do this activity at the end of your session to help students’ brains process what they just learned.

Note: Please adjust activity if you have physically disabled students in your class.


Artistic Interactive Activity that can Boost your Family’s Memory

family tree

Interactive memorization techniques can be practiced at home. There is certain information immediate family members should know about one another in case someone is sick or lost. This information can include family medical history and social security numbers. This is where interactive memorization methods can be applied.

Let’s use family medical history as an example. Medical history includes knowing your family members’ cause and age of death, health problems, allergies, birth defects etc.   Knowing your family’s medical history can be a lot to remember because you need to know your grandparents’ histories on both your mother’s and father’s sides.

One way to remember this is by talking with one another and drawing a group Family Medical History Tree.  You remember items better when you draw them rather than write.  You use the left side of your brain when you draw pictures and the right side when you write. So, let’s incorporate both in this activity!

  1. Ensure you have family medical histories of grandparents, mother, father, and children.
  2. Set up a family meeting.
  3. Tell your family you all will create a Family Medical History Tree.
  4. Get a big piece of paper such as flip chart paper or craft paper.
  5. As a family, draw the tree with relatives’ names and pictures if possible.
  6. Under each relative’s name write the following…
    • Member’s cause of death (if applicable)
    • Member’s age of death (if applicable)
    • Diagnoses or health problems
    • Allergies
    • Birth defects
  7. If you have a young child, he/she can decorate the tree.
  8. Put the tree in a safe place.
  9. Have family members look at the tree repeatedly so it can be ingrained in their minds (repetition)
    • Review it during family meetings.
    • Ensure each family member knows where this tree is located so they can review it when they like.

Entertaining, Interactive Activity that Increases Memorization


Incorporating interactive activities in the classroom increases a person’s memorization rate of a lesson or subject. Interactive activities encourage you to think about the material in different ways. For instance, a group of students is learning about the lifecycle of a butterfly.  Sure, you can tell them the stages and expect them to remember.

But why not supplement this lesson with a project where the students become the butterfly and then they teach others the life cycle?

This will help students absorb the material. Teaching others a concept is an effective memorization and learning method. As a teacher, you want to grasp the material in case your students ask questions. If you know the subject, you will also be confident in delivering the material. Below is an example of how to incorporate this in the classroom.

  1. Choose a subject you want your students to learn.
    • Let’s use the lifecycle of a butterfly for this example.
  2. Explain to your students the four stages of a butterfly in 15 minutes or less.
  3. Break your class up into 4 groups.
  4. Each group will have to act out (role play) the four stages of a butterfly and teach their classmates.
  5. Tell students to be creative.
  6. After this class, students will have a better chance of remembering the lesson because the following memorization methods are used…
    • Lecture by instructor
    • Prepping for role play
    • Performing the role play
    • Repetition by seeing each group’s version of their role play



Interactive Activity that requires Family Brain Power and Critical Thinking!

family spending time


The application of critical thinking skills at home is different than in the classroom. Children will be analyzing issues with people who they are related to and live with, their family. In this environment, children may have more time to evaluate with their family.

Also, the family members’ reactions will be different than peers in the classroom. Family may be more critical or supportive of what a child is thinking. The child’s parents and older siblings, may be apt to tell their child all the answers instead of letting them figure it out. To prevent this, we will use a different version of the critical thinking question in the previous post: Time has just been taken away from the world for a day. How will your family function?

Most people use time as an indicator to achieve something such as: eating, working, playing, and sleeping.

Many parents and older siblings will be in unfamiliar territory if you take time away. Doing an activity around this question will most likely have the whole family stumped. Below is how you put the whole family’s critical thinking skills to practice with this question.

  1. Plan to have a day or half a day where you operate with no time.
  2. The best time to do this is on the weekend or a day when no one needs to work or go to school.
  3. Put everyone’s cell phone and watches into a safe place the night before.
  4. Cover all clocks in the home the night before.
  5. Put away computers and anything that keeps time.
  6. Remind your family of the question/problem: Time has just been taken away from the world for a day. How will your family function?
  7. The day before, the family should come together and predict how they will function (critical thinking).
  8. Record each family member’s response.
  9. The next day, as soon as you wake up, start to function without time.
  10. After the activity, debrief how your day went… (critical thinking)
    • How did you know when to eat?
    • Did you communicate more without your cell phones?
    • Who was the most comfortable with this activity?
    • Who was the most uncomfortable with this activity?
    • What family member predicted what would happen?
    • Would you do this again?
  11. PLEASE NOTE: Adjust this activity if there is a situation where you need time. For example, if someone needs to take their medicine every 4 hours. This is not worth the risk.