Reading Makes ₵ents – Part 5

Making a piggy-bank gets children excited about saving money. The 4-H Reading Makes ₵ents curriculum offers books and activities to introduce the importance of saving.

The national 4-H curriculum, Reading Makes ₵ents, combines two key life skills: Reading literacy and money management.

It’s not hard for children to spend money, but saving it can be another matter. The Reading Makes ₵ents curriculum, created for third through fifth graders, makes learning fun and hands-on. An entire chapter is devoted to introducing youngsters to the concepts of interest and financial goals.

A good way to initially get children excited about saving money is to have them make their own piggy-bank. Why are they called “piggy” banks? The fascinating evolution of the name is explained along with reading selections and instructions for creating two kinds of piggy banks. If time is too short to make their own bank, youth can use any kind of container with a lid; clear containers work especially well as youth can see their money accumulating inside.

Five book selections, representing a variety of cultures, have main characters who work hard to save for a meaningful goal. The selections help children understand the services a financial institution might provide for youth, how financial institutions work, the difference between a bank and a credit union, checking accounts, minimum deposit, income tax and the role of parental involvement.

Using calculators, participants apply the “Rule of 72” to determine how long it will take them to double their money. A book selection explains how compound interest speeds up the interest earned in an account.

The stock market is not a topic that not even many adults understand. However, the chapter uses age-appropriate reading selections to introduce the stock market to elementary-age youth. Youngsters learn how to read a financial table in the business section of a newspaper.

The final activity in the chapter encourages youth to investigate coin collecting. Numismatics collect coins for a variety of reasons, from enjoying the artwork on coins and bills to anticipating that the collection will increase in value.

Each activity in the curriculum is followed by a set of discussion questions to complete the experiential learning process.

The savings and investing unit helps youth grasp the importance of the phrase “Pay Yourself First.” Financial experts recommend saving 20 percent of income. Those who learn to become disciplined savers early on in life are more likely to be financially healthy in the future. After all, it’s not what you earn that matters, it’s what you keep.

The Reading Makes ₵ents curriculum was developed by professionals at Pennsylvania State University and pilot tested by youth in after-school programs across the country. It has been reviewed, recommended and accepted into the National 4-H Curriculum set of professional educational resources.

An overview of the curriculum, as well as other chapters of the book are highlighted in separate articles posted on the Michigan State University Extension website.

This 194 page resource is available for from the 4-H Mall at Reading Makes ₵ents. Contact your local MSU Extension office for additional information about financial literacy programming for youth.

For more information about children and money, visit the finance website.

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