Money-opoly: Introducing Financial Literacy

Girl Guides of Canada launched some new specialized programs for the 2016-2017 school year. One of them is called Girls Count. This session focuses on building early skills in financial literacy and understanding the power of money. Personally, I thought the name was quite clever!

We had to divide the content into three parts in order to fit the program into the structure of our meetings. By meeting two, I was starting to feel that the material was only partially sinking in and most of it was going over their heads.

Safe Spaces to Save was the easiest to understand. I adapted the message to fit cookie selling situations. A co-guider and myself acted out different options and consequences on how to store money while selling cookies. The girls had to vote which were the safest methods, and which were the riskiest methods.

However, when it came to how money is accessed and various forms of payment, they had more difficulty with the learning objectives. I got the sense that they haven’t had much exposure to banks, ATMs and  cheques. I thought tackling these subjects would be ok for first-year Guides, but maybe next time I will wait until event planning and budgeting is addressed before getting specifically to money. That way the Girls will have some related tangible concepts down first.

I was expecting to just conclude the Girls Count program with Money-opoly and move back to the regular program challenges, but the results of this last session actually surprised me. Here were some questions / comments from the participants:

  • “I’m not going to put any money in my spending area because I want to save for an iPod.” – reply: “Ok, lets see what happens.”
  • “I will donate $10 to charity.” – reply: “Are you sure? That’s so generous!”
  • “$18, that’s a lot of money. I don’t want to spend so much.” – reply: “Maybe you will think about buying popcorn when you actually go to the movies.”
  • “Awe… I didn’t get any money on this turn.” – reply: “But you still had fun playing with your friends!”
  • “That’s not fair, I have to pay that much for a hat?” – reply: “Maybe you’ll be more careful with your belongings.”
  • And the comment that made my day: “I want to play again!”

I probably learned as much as the Girls through this exercise. Their remarks gave me a lot of insight into how they think, the things they understand and the concepts they don’t. Here are some of their perceptions:

  • The expenses that were forced onto the Girls, like replacing the camp hat, simulate numerous bills for adults. After going through some of the cards, they realize that it’s necessary to have some money in the spending account. If they also had to pitch in for their camp fees, they would have a substantial long term goal.
  • Similarly, having them pick up separate cards from each other replicates the unexpected gains and losses in life.
  • It’s a good time form them to embrace their philanthropic inclinations, but they could use a little bit of guidance in picking charities and how to make an impact with their contributions.
  • Having all of their money in front of them allows them to easily see each of the totals. They can also compare against their friends and see how other participants decided to budget their funds. This can given them clear conclusions about which strategies were good and which could be improved.
  • Going through the different types of cards also gave the Girls an understanding of what is available and what is dedicated for each purpose.
  • Finally, it’s great for them to play again, so they get a chance to revise their budgeting in anticipation of their expenses.

I think I would include this game as a “free time” activity during a future winter camp, as its easy for them to self-moderate. I’m still kind of surprised at how much they enjoyed it; it might be because budgeting is such a new concept and they are still developing the best budgets for their lives. Until they get tired of it, I’m happy to let them play over and over again.

Try Money-opoly for yourself! It’s on page 9 of the Girl Guides’ Girls Count instant meeting.


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