Recently a group of students were spotted opening checking accounts and going shopping on a bus — the Money Bus
One hundred twenty-five fourth and fifth graders at Lafayette Park Elementary participated in a program, The Kids Count on the Money Bus, developed by the Networks Financial Institute and sponsored by Indiana State University. The program is a mobile financial literacy classroom for third through fifth grades. Students learn to manage their money; from earning an income to setting spending priorities; from developing budgets to tracking financial accounts, and even the importance of giving to their community.
“The Money Bus helped me learn how to add change in my head, use a debit card, how to write a deposit slip, and to write a check.” fifth-grader Connor Sanburn said.
The staff at Lafayette Park received professional development and a 20-hour comprehensive financial literacy curriculum to teach in the classroom. The lessons each stressed areas of math, economics and reading.
Teacher Chantel Sullivan said the lessons were enjoyable and educational.
“Not only did they cover many of our math, language arts, and social studies standards but they were fun for the students to do. They even made their own bank stand from cardboard and brought it in for the class to play with during lessons,” she said.
After the students opened an account at the bank, they boarded the Money Bus in order to apply what they had learned and test their money skills. The students proceeded through a series of stations on the bus where they were challenged to stay within their budgets and balance their earnings with a series of wants and needs. Cleverly-structured content permitted the students to reinforce their financial literacy knowledge as they engaged with fun, interactive exhibits such as the “Wild Ride” video coaster and “Call it!” arcade. Each of the activities allowed the students the chance to earn money for their savings account, decide which items to purchase, and even make virtual donations to charity.
Maddison Fitzgerald said her favorite part was the donation center.
“I decided to give money to Make a Wish Foundation so it can help other kids,” she said.
To wrap up the event, the students were able to use their debit cards to purchase ice cream and then buy a variety of toppings including hot fudge, crushed Oreos, whipped cream and cherries. Thanks to the generosity of Kroger and parents, and to the delight of the students, they received their actual order after they finished their Money Bus visit.
“Actually purchasing an ice cream and receiving it made the experience meaningful and significant to the students.” fifth-grade teacher Katie Suter said.