Fifth and sixth grade students now have the skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They can recognize monetary values and can use their learned skills in real life situations. Teachers in the prior grades have introduced multiplication and division of money and now the students will learn the decimal rules pertaining to this concept.
According to state standards, by the end of fifth and sixth grade, students should have the skills of computation to add, subtract, multiply, or divide fractions, decimals, integers, percentages, and money values (see Money Math). Any number value is expected to be solved and the use of mental strategies like problem solving, as well as a pencil, paper, and calculator, students should be familiar with. Comparisons are also taught so when students are in the real world, they can mentally calculate the price of an item and make a comparison.
As students become more knowledgeable in money, they can begin to look for part time jobs. Teachers have found students who work as a babysitter or newspaper person have a stronger concept of money, its value, what it represents, and what it can get them. The best lesson to teach about the value of the dollar is the reality of life.
One way a teacher can help their students understand the importance of the dollar is by developing a two month long project, where they must keep an average amount of money in a fake bank account (see Banking Lessons). Some expenses which can be mandatory are food, shelter, and clothing. Then the students will be given a list of necessities and luxuries with weekly pricing for each service and be told to choose between two and ten more items. The items on the list are flexible and always can be changed. Each week the teacher will ask the students for a copy of their expenses for the week.
The students are required to keep track of every expense, similar to a check book ledger, for any item money is spent on (see Checking Lessons). The teacher will give ten charts for all the project weeks. On the first chart, the total amount of money being used will be in the first row plus the prices for food, shelter, and clothing. Nothing will be calculated, this is the students job. Since the cost will be repeated weekly, each chart will have these three items already. The chart will have columns for: the item, day it was purchased, cost, and balance remaining for the total account.
The students will have their choice of items but must not lose all their money throughout the ten week project. Depending on the teacher, some offer items which will increase income which incorporate how to save on energy costs. This long term project will teach life skills, financial skills, problem solving, and incorporate all the computation concepts.
By having students choose their expenses and visually see the cost of every item, the teacher hopes to help students realize the value of money. The internet, cell phones, video games, and all the luxuries many students would like to purchase may not be possible during their 10 week long project.
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