Teaching kids about money is one of the most valuable lessons a parent can provide. Getting kids to understand the importance of financial literacy when they're young though is no small feat. That's where financial literacy games come in.
While not new, gamification has become an increasingly popular and legitimate way to teach students of all ages useful skills and concepts. For something like money education that can be dry and dull if taught in another format, it can be a lifesaver.
There's a big difference between which financial literacy lessons are valuable to a 5-year-old than a 15-year-old. To make the best financial literacy games for your kids easy to pinpoint, below are 15 suggestions, divided by age group.
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Financial literacy games for grades K-5
Before you can focus on more complicated concepts like saving and investments, kids have to learn the basic concepts of what money is and what different bills and coins are worth. There are eight fun, free MoneyIsland games available on Kasasa U, the financial literacy section of Kasasa.com. Here are five more game suggestions for your little one:
- Learning Coins - Learning Coins from ABCYa provides kids with an introduction to what each of the different coins is, how to recognize them, and what they're worth.
- Money Bingo - Also from ABCYa, Money Bingo lets kids put their coin knowledge to use, along with some math skills, to fill a virtual bingo card.
- Dolphin Feed - Once you've mastered those first two games, ABCYa has one more financial literacy game for students at a slightly higher level. Dolphin Feed lets you compete against other kids to see who can make the right change the fastest.
- Escape from Barter Island - Escape from Barter Island helps kids learn just why we use money to begin with. It teaches what bartering is and shows why it's less practical than currency. This one does require some reading, so you might need to help the younger kids out with it.
- Dollar Dive - From the U.S. Mint, Dollar Dive is a cross between Dolphin Feed and Space Invaders - your character has to "catch" coins as they fly above in order to make enough money to move forward.
Financial literacy games for 5th graders to teens
- Financial Football - From Visa's Practical Money initiative, Financial Football mixes financial literacy in with America's favorite sport (for kids that prefer soccer, they have an alternate version).
- Hot Shot Business - Hot Shot Business takes kids to Opportunity City and gives them a chance to run a popular local business – with all the challenges and successes that come with it.
- Sand Dollar City - Sand Dollar City jumps a bit ahead of Hot Shot Business by giving the player an already established family business that needs to get out of debt. And it makes things more interesting by putting it underwater, because why not?
- Mad Money - Mad Money, from PBS Kids, is all about learning how to save. You start by picking the item you want to save for, then get to shop for various other items – seeing how each one takes you further from your intended goal unless you stay patient and wait for your money to add up.
- Thrive and Shine - Thrive and Shine is an app from Mind Blown Labs that lets players choose a character and profession and then make and spend money throughout the game based on the challenges that arise. It brings concepts like emergency funds, investments, and taxes into the game.
Financial literacy games for high school and college students
- Get a Life - Get a Life lets students pick a career and then create a budget and make other spending decisions based on the monthly salary that comes with it.
- Awesome Island - Players start out with the kind of job options available to most high school students and a set income, and are given the option to invest in an education to move into a new realm of job options. On their journey through different levels of education and career, they learn about the spending choices that all adults face, like taxes, philanthropy and investments.
- The Stock Market Game - Learn to play the stock market without the risk. Students can get a feel for how investing works, the risks involved, and which investments are the best choice.
- Gen i Revolution - From the Council for Economic Education, Gen i Revolution gives players a series of missions, each designed to help someone with a financial challenge, teaching players important financial skills as they go.
- Invest Quest - Modeled after a board game, Invest Quest helps older students test their financial knowledge to better understand how to make good investments.