Product Review: "Talking Cents" Cards

Dec 10, 2020
New Products

The University of Chicago’s Financial Education Initiative has just released a set of cards designed to be conversation starters with children aged 7 and up. The 108 Talking Cents cards come packaged like a thick deck of playing cards. The QR code provided links to a study guide for teachers (or parents) with suggestion for each of the 106 question cards.   (finEdge™ is the semester-long personal finance course for high school available from the University of Chicago and the main product from this Initiative.) The set costs $20. Consider adding this to you holiday wish list if it isn’t too late!

The “Talking Cents” cards, unlike flashcards (or Questions of the Day), have no right or wrong answer. They are open ended questions aimed to get students talking about values, broader concepts and even personal habits. You can keep the discussion going until a broad range of examples or opinions are provided, and can often summarize the discussion by finding and stating underlying principles. In that way, the cards could be an effective “soft” introduction to a number of personal finance topics.

The cards are not organized in any particular order, but as I scanned through them, I quickly determined that several could be grouped together as they deal with similar concepts different perspectives. For example, several get at the balance of working at what you enjoy versus working for money, and these could certainly be used as an introduction to a unit on careers. Several cards get at motivation for saving. And I also found several cards that ask about what qualities one might look for in someone before lending them money, a valuable item, or cosigning a loan. Even the concepts of present value, insurance, human capital and taxes and government spending are covered.

While I did not have any school-aged children to test the cards on, I spent some time with my adult children not only answering the questions posed on the cards, but talking about how to get high school students to truly engage in a conversation. The concept we kept coming back to was assigning a card (the same card or different but related cards) to small groups of students to discuss in breakout rooms (online if not in person.) My son liked the idea of having the small group decide which answer they felt strongest about, and have someone else (not the one who offered it) present it to the class for additional discussion. Of course there are many ways this could be handled, and you know what would work with your students and your current teaching arrangement.  

If you currently communicate with parents/guardians on a regular basis through a newsletter or email, you could include one of these cards for discussion as a family. I like the idea of including one already used in class and then having the student facilitate the family conversation. If you have a writing requirement, these cards could be used as prompts.

Bottom line: ‘Talking Cents’ cards would be a good addition to your tool kit. You would only need one $20 set regardless of number of students or classes, and the cards are pretty timeless.   If you do get a set for the holidays, try them out with your own family! Once you have tried them with your students, share your experiences on FinLit Fanatics.


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