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Money Island: a financial literacy virtual world

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 08-02-2012

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What it is: Money Island is a neat site I found today while searching for some fun tie ins for our economic inquiry block at Anastasis.  This enchanting virtual world teaches students about money and how the economy works while they go on quests to destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Atlantis.  Students learn and practice the real-life principles of financial responsibility.  Students build knowledge and skills in three major areas including: saving and spending, earning and investing, and using credit wisely.  In addition to these major areas, students learn how to spend, grow and give money; the difference between wants, needs and taxes; different types of income; gain an understanding of interest; how to use credit wisely; and how to build wealth.
The site includes detailed lesson plans and activity suggestions for the classroom, as well as a specialized area within money island where teachers and parents can see what students are learning and track progress.
Money Island was created in partnership with the Young Americans Bank.  This bank was designed specifically for children under the age of 21!  Our students will be taking a field trip to the Young Americans Bank in Denver to continue their learning during this block.  If you are in the Denver area, it is a great field trip!
How to integrate Money Island into the classroom: Kids are not exposed to enough opportunities to learn and practice financial literacy.  Case in point: the national debt crisis, housing loan disaster, and credit card stats. It baffles me that we don’t spend more time in the classroom helping kids learn about money and finances!  Every teacher should take this on in some capacity, we can’t assume that someone else will teach it.  Kids need to learn about how the economy works prior to being neck deep in financial decisions on a daily basis.  Money Island is a fun introduction to all of this!
Students begin their journey in Money Island with a mission to help character Stone Broke.  Students choose a virtual side-kick who will guide them through Money Island and help them make important decisions.  Students are directed through a series of quests to help Stone Broke while learning about money and how to make sound financial decisions.
Money Island is a virtual world so it takes a bit of time to get all the way through it.  When students login, they are given a special key so they can pick up right where they left off in the game.  This is a great site for a one to one classroom environment or computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  The site could also be used as a center activity on classroom computers with students rotating through the center throughout the week.  Because students can save their progress, they can play from both school and from home.
Money Island makes a fantastic tie-in to a money or economics unit for kids.
***Hint: Click “Join” to join.  For some reason the “Play” button is a little bit temperamental.  It worked for me the first time I played with it but not the second…not sure what that is all about!
Tips:   There is a new game featured on Money Island…Episode 2 helps students learn how to “win” at the credit game.  There are also fun mini games and comics on the site for kids to interact with and explore!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Money Island in  your classroom!

MinyanLand: A virtual world for economics and finance

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Character Education, collaboration, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-03-2011

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What it is: I love virtual worlds that go beyond just play and incorporate learning opportunities.  MinyanLand is a virtual world where students get to play games and make friends while they learn about earning, saving, spending and giving.  Best of all, it is free to use!  Students begin their time in MinyanLand with $50,000 in MinyanMoney and a condo.  They can visit the ATM in the MinyanLand bank to invest their money.  Each time students visit, they can check to see if their balance has gone up or down.  Students can earn more MinyanMoney by playing fun games, or doing real life chores or classroom jobs to collect a virtual allowance.   Students can  use their MinyanMoney to buy things for their home, add rooms, and move into a new neighborhood.

MinyanLand has it’s own newspaper called the MinyanLand Journal, it will keep students up-to-date with what is new every day.  Students can play games where they practice their math skills and test their knowledge about money.  Games include a Lemonade Stand, Guitar Mayhem, Paper Route, Concentration, Balloon Quiz, Fill in the Face, Fill in the Name, Catch the Money, Word Search, Money Sorter, Cluedoku, Boo Blvd., Where Did You Get That Money?, and Quiz Boxes.  Students will need to keep their virtual character healthy by fueling up at Ollie’s Diner.

The characters in MinyanLand are fun and varied, there is Hoofy the Bull, president of the bank; Boo the Bear, a retired dot-com millionaire; Daisy the cow, executive producer of MinyanLand’s TV station; Cassidy the Bear, a school teacher; Sammy the Snake, an administrator in City Hall; and Snapper the Turtle, the go-to guy in town.

MinyanLand is a fun way for students to learn about and interact with economic and financial concepts.  The economic system in MinyanLand can even take advantage of real-life pricing of general goods and services.  Students are encouraged to charitably give within MinyanLand.  The idea is to offer every child the opportunity and platform to be financially literate.   MinyanLand is ideal for students in 3rd-5th grade but younger students would enjoy it as well.

How to integrate MinyanLand into the classroom: MinyanLand is such a fun way to work toward financial literacy in the classroom.  It offers students a virtual economy where they can practice real-world skills of buying, earning, investing, and giving.  I love the way that MinyanLand ties the real world to the virtual by allowing students to earn virtual MinyanMoney for real chores and jobs.

Registering is free and easy enough for young students to register themselves.  A parent or teacher email address is optional for registration.  If students include a parent or teacher email address, they can earn MinyanMoney for chores or jobs that you assign.

MinyanLand is one of those sites that would be great as a year-long project.  Students can visit MinyanLand throughout the year in the classroom (and at home) to learn about money, investing, spending, earning, and the economy.  It is a natural fit in the math classroom where students are already working with money and numbers.  MinyanLand would be best in a lab setting where each student has access to a computer.  If you don’t have a lab for students, use classroom computers as a learning center.  Students can visit the center throughout the week to interact in MinyanLand.

Tips: Even if you don’t want to use the virtual money in class, consider letting parents know about the opportunity to tie household chores to learning.  Students can play in class and earn virtual money at home.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using MinyanLand in your classroom!

Moneyopolis

Posted by admin | Posted in Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 05-05-2008

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What it is: Moneyopolis is an awesome game for teaching kids money and math! Each math question in the game is correlated to specific standards for grades 6-8 (although I think the site can be used with 5th grade students very successfully as well). The Moneyopolis game tracks students progress via their “scorecard” for the game. There are some great additional site tools which include a budget gadget that helps students set financial goals complete with an online worksheet to help students keep track of spending habits, a library with articles and links to other sites focused on math and money, a glossary for students to look up unfamiliar words and phrases, and a calculator to help students calculate math problems.

How to integrate Moneyopolis into the classroom: Moneyopolis is the perfect way for teaching math and money skills in a way that will catch and hold your students attention. Students can go through the game during class at their own pace, play in groups to compete against one another during class, or as an extra-credit activity that can be completed outside of class. Students can go through the game section by section based on what lessons you are teaching, or all at once at the end of a unit. Since the game keeps track of each students progress, they will be able to exit the game and come back to work where they left off.

Tips: Work through this game in student mode before introducing to students…you will be entertained! The teacher section of this site has some great lesson plans to use with Moneyopolis. I learned about the site on Larry Ferlazzo’s blog and I have to say, it is a winner!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Moneyopolis in your classroom.

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