Jul 31, 2023

5 First Day of School Ideas for Your Personal Finance Class

The first day of school is an opportunity for you to set the tone for the rest of the year. We've got you covered with five engaging activities to captivate students' interest and get them excited for what's to come. 


1. Play FinLit Bingo

Get students out of their seats, talking about money, and getting to know each other with NGPF's ready-to-go BINGO boards. Print the BINGO boards and distribute one board per student in your class. Give students 15 to 20 minutes to circulate around the classroom and ask their peers to write their initials on the tiles that apply to their financial experiences. The first students to score BINGO wins!

Want to customize the game? Click File > Make a Copy on the Google Doc BINGO Boards linked above. Then, you’ll have editing capability on all the tiles. 

2. Watch and Discuss a Short Documentary on the Importance of Financial Education

Help your students understand how what they'll learn in your course will give them an advantage in life and perhaps even inspire them to become advocates for financial education. NGPF has produced two short documentaries highlighting the growing movement behind personal finance education. Both films have accompanying classroom worksheets to stimulate discussion among your students after watching. 

Real World Class is a 19-minute documentary which follows the stories of five remarkable students from around the nation and demonstrates how student activism is behind the movement to increase access to financial education. Find the accompanying classroom worksheet here.

The Most Important Class You Never Had is a 36-minute documentary that brings the importance of personal finance education into sharp focus through the stories of eight high school teachers and classrooms. Find the accompanying classroom worksheet here.


3. Get Students Moving & Exploring Their Money Values

Have students explore their experiences and values related to money and consider why individuals might make different financial decisions with the activity MOVE: Your Money Values. Students will be given a prompt, such as "I’d rather save money than spend it." They then move to the corner that matches their opinion (strongly disagree, mildly disagree, mildly agree, strongly agree) and discuss it with classmates. We outline numerous ways to facilitate the activity so you can keep things lively. 


4. Play the Bean Game

Get your Smarties, M&Ms, or beans ready! Both a teacher and student favorite, PLAY: The Bean Game helps students discover how personal experiences and values affect budgeting decisions. Students use a game board that lists categories and costs (in beans). Each student or group receives 20 beans which represent their income which they can spend on the items listed on their game board. Then comes the surprise - their income drops to 13 beans and they have to make choices around what to remove. Afterward, they reflect on their decisions. 

5. Get Interactive with the Spent Arcade Game

Students experience what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck by playing the arcade game Spent. The synopsis is that players are unemployed, have lost their house, and are down to their last $1,000. They must try to make it 30 days without running out of money. Not only does it get students making financial decisions, but also moral decisions. The game takes about 10 minutes to play and the full Interactive: Living Paycheck to Paycheck takes about 30 minutes. Watch Amanda's Teacher Tip video about how you can use the game with your class.


Want to dive deeper with these ideas? Attend our upcoming Virtual PDs. 

Activity Spotlight: The Bean Game | August 2, 2023 1PM PT / 4PM ET

Ideas for the First Day of School | August 14, 2023 4PM PT / 7PM ET & August 26, 2023 8:10AM PT / 11:10PM ET 

NGPF Speaker Series: Amanda Volz on prepping for the new school year | August 17, 2023 4PM PT / 7PM ET



About the Author

Hannah Rael

As NGPF's Marketing Communications Manager, Hannah (she/her) helps spread the word about NGPF's mission to improve the financial lives of the next generation of Americans.

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