Brief Description of the Site:
Visa, the credit card company, has created a powerful site designed to help educators, parents and students practice better money management for life. With fiscal skullduggery in the headlines, there is a growing awareness of the need to prepare consumers and wage earners the skills to cope with the complexities of the financial world. The site offers a free teacher's guide, student worksheets and quizzes and interactive brainteasers that students can play online or on CD (a free resource). There are lesson plans, a Banking Tutor, Games, and a Calculator aimed at helping determine the fiscal needs of car loans, college funding, a mortgage, credit card debt, and budget planning, to name a few. For this alone it's worth bookmarking the site and keeping the link handy to make projections of expenditures. Related Links listed correspond closely to the age group for whom the various lesson plans are designed, making them very useful.
How to use the site:
You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, Macromedia Flash Player, and Real Player (all free downloads) to view and use this site with students. The lesson plans are available according to grade level, beginning with Early Childhood (PreK-Grade 2) with additional grade appropriate links (www.kidsbank.com - a very colorful appealing site) to support and enhance classroom instruction. Other categories are Children (Grades 3-6), Teens (Grades 7-12), and College (18 and up). Early Childhood and Children lesson plans have 4 lessons each, but the Teens garner the lion's share with 14 lessons plus resource links. The purpose of providing related links is to teach students about researching current financial information so that they can properly assess existing financial situations, to obtain programs to make financial planning calculations, monitor stock and other investment values, and facilitate the asking of questions of experts through the use of help lines, bulletin board services, and discussion forums. The Banking Tutor has a section on various statements one encounters on a regular basis. Each statement is defined and then has a link that displays a graphic, with rollover explanations of each part of the statement so as to provide a visual familiarity with each item. The tutor visually details how to write a check, highlighting each field of a check as the cursor moves over definitions. The visual nature of the tutor reinforces comprehension. The Smart Money Quiz under the Games section gives the contestant a fictitious $100,000 which diminishes with every incorrect response, depending on the assigned value to each question. "Paying With Plastic" works on a reward system (not unlike bonus miles) with a specific financial value for each question. There are 12 entertaining games, many of which are modeled after game shows. Practical Money Skills is just that, and with the broad spectrum offered, it's never too early to start acquiring them.