Sep 15, 2021

15 Top Middle School Personal Finance Activities to Explore

Today's NGPF Middle School Tips post has one goal: get you the very best from the NGPF Middle School Course, quickly! I've highlighted 15 Resources: 5 Experiences, 4 Articles, 3 EdPuzzles, 2 Activities, and 1 Think-Pair-Share. You can use any and all of these during this semester to engage your middle school students in impactful discussions about personal finance, or even as a differentiator for high school students. Have fun!

5 Terrific Teacher-Guided Experiences

Maximizing student-driven learning can make the difference between a good class and a fantastic one. But that doesn’t mean the teacher is passive! Use these 5 teacher-guided experiences to keep students engaged and accountable through multiple checkpoints.


To use the teacher-facing Lesson Guides (including answer keys) for these experiences, make sure to log into your free NGPF Teacher Account, and select the corresponding Lesson Guide for the lessons noted below.


MOVE: Create a Budget [Lesson: MS-3.1 What is a Budget?]

Head to Middle School Unit 3: Budgeting, then find the lesson guide for lesson MS-3.1 to use the Teacher Directions for this experience.


INTERACTIVE: FinViz Map [Lesson: MS-6.2 The Stock Market]

Head to Middle School Unit 6: Investing, then find the lesson guide for lesson MS-6.2 to use the Teacher Directions for this experience.


ANALYZE: Phishing Scams [Lesson: MS-7.3 Scams]

Head to Middle School Unit 7: Protecting Yourself, then find the lesson guide for lesson MS-7.3 to use the Teacher Directions for this experience.


PRACTICE: First Impressions [Lesson MS-8.4 First Impressions]

Head to Unit 8: Prepare for Success, then find the lesson guide for lesson MS-8.4 to use the Teacher Directions for this experience.


MOVE: Budget For Your Future [Lesson: MS-9.5 A Budget For The Future]

Head to Unit 9: Life After High School, then find the lesson guide for lesson MS-9.5 to use the Teacher Directions for this experience.


4 Magnificent Middle-School-Lexile Articles

The small (but mighty!) NGPF Curriculum Team saves you time by converting more complex articles from around the web into grade-level reading lexiles for the Middle School Course. Here are 4 of our favorites from the 9-week Middle School Curriculum.


Article: How Does The Government Spend My Taxes? [Lesson: MS-3.4 Why We Pay Taxes]

Article: What Is A Savings Account [Lesson: MS-5.3 Savings vs. Checking Accounts]

Article: The Magic of Compound Interest [Lesson MS-6.1 Why Invest?]

Article: 5 Reasons Digital Citizenship is Important [Lesson: MS-7.1 Digital Citizenship]


3 Educator-Favorite EdPuzzles

EdPuzzle is a tech tool that adds Checks for Understanding directly into videos so your students can engage more fully with videos in your class, and you can assess your students’ understanding of the topics you’re teaching. Here are 3 of teachers’ favorite EdPuzzles from the NGPF Middle School Course.


EdPuzzle: Are "Free" Video Games Really Free [Lesson: MS-2.2 Coupons & Discounts]

EdPuzzle: Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards [Lesson MS-4.2 Introduction to Credit]

 EdPuzzle: Paying for College [Lesson: MS-9.2 Paying for College] 


2 Wonderful What Would You Do? Activities

NGPF Middle School Lessons often start with Scenarios that ask students to answer, “What Would You Do?” This can be an effective way to help students forge connections between their day-to-day lives and what they’re about to learn in your lessons! Here are two winning WWYD?s from the 9-week NGPF Middle School Course:


WWYD: Buddy's Birthday or Brand-New Backpack [Lesson: MS-1.2 Exploring Tradeoffs]

Unit 1: Money in Our Lives challenges students to discuss how their beliefs and experiences impact their decisions about money. In one of the very first lessons in the unit, Exploring Tradeoffs, teachers kick off the lesson with a What Would You Do? Scenario involving "found money." Do you spend it on a friend or on that new backpack you've been needing for school?


WWYD: A New Coat for Winter [Lesson: MS-2.1 Comparison Shopping]

Unit 2: Consumer Skills is a unique unit in the NGPF Middle School Course that features practical skills to help your students become smarter consumers. In the unit's first lesson, students answer a two-part What Would You Do? Scenario. First, if their loved one were to buy them a coat, what would be important in deciding which coat to buy? Second, if they had to pitch in for half the price of the coat, what if anything would change in their decision making? Watch the thoughtful discussion kicks up in your class!


1 Thoughtful Think-Pair-Share

While middle schoolers may not always have formal academic background knowledge of personal finance topics, they ARE already making financial decisions in their day-to-day lives. Make opportunities for students to open up about those daily experiences, then help connect them into your lesson topics with think-pair-shares. Students know more than they might think!


Talk to a Partner: What's worth spending money on? [Lesson: MS-3.2 Needs vs. Wants]

This brief think-pair-share activity asks students, in an open-ended format, to imagine themselves below, in the bustling aisles of a giant store like Walmart or Target. Of course, you could also customize this Lesson Intro with a local store you know will be familiar for your students. In their opinion, what items in that store are worth spending money on?

About the Author

Christian Sherrill

Former teacher, forever financial education nerd. As NGPF's Director of Growth & Advocacy, Christian is laser-focused on our mission to guarantee all students a rigorous personal finance course before crossing the high school graduation stage. Having paid down over $40k in student loans in the span of 3 years - while living in the Bay Area on an entry level teacher's salary - he's eager to help the next generation avoid financial pitfalls one semester at a time.

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