May 2015

Financial Literacy and Economic Education Information for Pennsylvania Teachers
Webinars Galore!

While the 2014-2015 Making Cents Webinar Series has come to an end, there are still opportunities this month to learn from other experts in financial education. Consider signing up for one or both of the following.


May 14th | 5:00pm - 6:00pm

Keys to Financial Success Program: Features and Effectiveness

In this webinar you will learn about the Keys to Financial Success high school personal finance program. The Keys program provides schools and teachers with the curriculum materials and training required to teach a semester or year-long personal finance course. In this webinar, the program leaders will share information on the program's features and evidence of its effectiveness from a recently published research study. Register here.


May 21st | 4:30pm - 5:15pm

The Council on Economic Education's new Online Assessment Center and Online Resources

In this webinar you will explore the use of some of CEE's premiere online resources. You will also receive an overview of the Online Assessment Center (more info below). Register here.

Bedtime Math - Money Math Mondays: Integrating Math and Financial Education  


Throughout the month of April, Bedtime Math celebrated Financial Literacy month with a Money Math Mondays. 


For those unfamiliar with Bedtime Math, parents can sign up for daily math problems to be done with their children at bedtime (or anytime) via the website or download the app (iTunes or Android). 


The Money Math nightly features were:

  • Pennies by the Pound - here
  • The Wackiest Things Money Can Buy - here
  • Trevi Treasure Trove - here
  • High Fiverr - here 
Bedtime Math strongly encourages their problems be used outside of class by parents, so consider sharing the information above with your elementary school students' parents or use with your own children!
Model Personal Finance Curriculum for Pennsylvania Schools

Will you be working on improving your school's personal finance course over the summer or developing a new one from scratch? The state's new Model Personal Finance Curriculum for grades PK-12 should be your springboard. 

The model can be used by districts as they review their efforts to integrate personal finance and/or offer a standalone personal finance course at the high school level. 


To access the complete set of materials, educators need to first log-in to the SAS website. From the Teacher Tools menu proceed to Curriculum Mapping and then select the PA Standards instructional Frameworks: Personal Finance.  

The model curriculum provides overarching long-term transfer goals and six big ideas with essential questions, core concepts and competencies and alignment to the academic standards. Grade band and grade level summaries are offered for grades Pre-Kindergarten through eight. For the high school level, a complete model course is available with six modules - one for each big idea - and pacing recommendations for a one-semester course. 


The big ideas/modules are:

  • Money Management 
  • Earning Income
  • Borrowing Money
  • Financial Services
  • Risk Management
  • Saving and Investing  
In addition, the Model High School Course can be downloaded in its entirety in a PDF format in the Personal Finance Professional Learning Community. To join, log into SAS then go to Teacher Tools --> My Communities and search with the keywords: Financial Education. 

For more information about the model curriculum or to discuss how to use or implement it in your school, please contact Hilary Hunt, Project Coordinator.
Resource Spotlight: The Star Banks Adventure Online Game


T. Rowe Price recently launched a new online game and mobile app for ages 8 and up. Star Banks Adventure takes users on an mission to stop Overlord Zek, the evil mastermind bent on causing financial chaos.  The game features puzzles, quizzes, and power-ups that kids will find appealing. 


Learn more about the game here. Visit the website to play online, download the app from iTunesGoogle Play, or Amazon Apps

Register Today:

Professional Development Opportunities


Teacher Training Programs from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's economic teachers offer one-day, three-evening, and week-long professional development programs aimed at equipping K-12 teachers with the skills and knowledge to better teach their students about economics and personal finance in their own classrooms. Pennsylvania teachers receive Act 48 credit. Visit their website for more information and to register. 


Keys to Financial Success Teacher Training Program

July 6-10, 2015 | Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

For teachers committed to offering the Keys to Financial Success personal finance course for high school students covers an array of resources for a complete one-semester course

Making Sense of Money and Banking

July 20-24, 2015 | Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

For K-12 teachers covers money and banking with age-appropriate lessons using active and collaborative-learning teaching methods


World History and Economics: A Professional Development Program for Teachers

July 29, 2015 | Burlington County College, Mt. Laurel, NJ 

For middle and high school teachers covers a series of simulations, role-playing activities, group activities, classroom demonstrations, and informational texts designed to effectively teach world history and economics


Mini-Society: A Professional Development Program for Teachers

August 4-6, 2015 | Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

For teachers in grades 3-6 the Mini-Society program is an experience-based, integrated learning system in which students create and manage currency and run businesses  

C Bowen
Expand Your Knowledge:
Investing versus Gambling
by Cathy Faulcon Bowen, Ph.D.


What is the difference between gambling and investing? Newcomers to the world of personal finance-including many students-may be confused about how investing is different from gambling. A student once relayed to me that his parent described the stock market as "a rich man's lottery." Students reared in a household or community where investing was not dinner table conversation may have similar impressions. This is magnified in some religious communities and cultures that view gambling or games of chance as negative influences and ban such behavior.


Children reared in similar environments could be diverted from investing. Media portrayals of gamblers and investors may influence this thinking. Gamblers are often portrayed as shady cigarette smoking characters, while investors are business men dressed in black suits. So how can educators expand the thinking or expose students to the world of investing?  


One way to initiate conversations and perhaps more investigation about investing by those you teach or influence is to provide a rudimentary comparison of the two practices. You might start with a clip from a movie about gambling and then engage the students in a conversation. A class conversation could be the fuel needed to ignite a fire that burns for years. Start with a definition of each and let students' comments and questions lead the way for a class discussion.


As defined by Webster, gamble is to play games of chance for money or other stakes or take a risk to gain some advantage. Invest is to put money in business, real estate, stocks, bonds, etc., for the purpose of obtaining an income or profit.  In both cases, gambling or investing, the desired end result is an increased bottom line or more money than you started with.


Below are other characteristics associated with each that could further a conversation. You might be surprised to learn what your students know and think of the two ideas, learn more about their perceptions, and find ways to present a different viewpoint that might encourage them to become investors.



  • Profits are rare and usually only benefit a very small group of winners
  • Involves quick, spur of the moment decision-making.
  • May be compulsive behavior.
  • May be a form of entertainment (horse and dog races, sporting events).
  • Has negative impacts on communities (addicted gamblers who neglect their children, gambling attracts the "wrong" type of people to a community)
  • Gamblers are risk seekers and likely motivated by greed.


  • Helps drive the economic wheels of the country. Money consumers invest may be used by companies to expand and create new products to sell.  This puts money into circulation and in general helps the economy.
  • Requires careful analysis, considering possible choices and alternatives before making a decision.
  • Focuses on long-term goals (retirement, education, purchasing a home).
  • Historically, long-term investors with diversified portfolios have account values that exceed the principal or amount they invested.
  • Investors have different levels of risk tolerance; some have the assets and the personality or "stomach" to invest in risky instruments while others may be totally opposite.

Some events in the last 10-15 years can be used to argue the case against investing, and should be considered when having such conversations. Many of the investors who trusted money to Bernie Madoff admitted to not doing their homework before investing and suffered financially when the scam was revealed. Similarly, consumers who lost their retirement savings because of the Enron bankruptcy in 2001 were not gamblers. They were workers who systematically deposited money into retirement accounts that vanished overnight because of poor decisions made by leaders. Many of those workers/investors had not practiced a basic investment principle, diversification. They put all of their proverbial eggs in one basket and lost much - if not all-of their retirement money.

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Survey: 7th Annual Parents, Kids, and Money Survey

T. Rowe Price's 2015 Parents, Kids & Money Survey revealed that parents are letting their kids, who are 8-14 years old, learn about money the hard way, but may not be having the appropriate financial conversations to help guide their decisions. 

  • 58% of parents let their kids make their own bad financial decisions so that they can learn from their own mistakes.
  • 52% of parents believe that their kids should have their own credit cards to learn about managing money yet only 21% of kids feel knowledgeable about credit

Additionally, the survey found that a growing number of parents think that it is appropriate for schools to teach financial education, and three-quarters of parents think there should be a personal finance requirement to graduate high school. 


Consider using questions from the survey with your students and/or parents and see how the results compare.

Children's Literature Connection:
Full STEAM Ahead


In the elementary grades, especially, it is important to focus on integration of personal finance with other topics. When you can combine finance with language arts and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) even more connections can be drawn.


Andrea Beaty and David Roberts' new books are great for inspiring young architects and engineers and teaching basic personal finance concepts related to earning money.

  • Talk to your students about turning their passions and interests into fulfilling careers.
  • Have students explain the saying, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."
  • Assign "when I grow up" writing prompts to students. 

Iggy Peck Architect features second grader Iggy Peck who amazes his teacher and others with his building skills. 


Rosie Revere Engineer is a story about a little girl who follows her passion to create with encouragement from her aunt. 


A teachers' guide for each along with reader theater ideas for Iggy Peck are available from the author's website here

Financial Fair at Mahanoy Area High School


Mahanoy Area residents and students celebrated April as Financial Education Month with its third annual Mahanoy Area Community Financial Fair. The fair was hosted by the Mahanoy Area High School Business Department. Ms. Kathy Loy, department chair, teaches a course in personal finance for 11th graders and is a strong proponent of financial education in Schuylkill County and beyond


This year's event featured representative from local banks (M&T, National Penn, and Santander), Primerica Financial Services, New York Life, CareerLink, PHEAA and more. Featured topics included financial aid, banking, mortgages, investing, retirement planning, estate planning, insurance, paying for college and more. The school's FBLA chapter had a concession stand at the event with light refreshments and door prizes. 


The event was deemed a resounding success, and plans are already in the works for another event next year. Have you considered hosting such a program in your area? Want tips or suggestions? Get in touch with Ms. Loy

About this Message 

Making Cents is a cooperative effort by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State University. If you find the content useful, please consider forwarding it to your colleagues. 


Team Members:

Sally Flaherty, PDE

Cathy F. Bowen, PSU

Hilary Hunt, Consultant

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