“Teach me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand” – Chinese Proverb.
Kids (and adults!) love games. Games help us practice what we can’t (or won’t) do in reality. We learn from games.
Games can help us learn about money, investing, running a business, and other financial concepts. In my youth, we had only board games, such as monopoly or Pit or Life. Today we have a myrid of board and online games to help us learn about and help us teach our kids about money.
Free Online Games
There is Planet Orange (http://www.orangekids.com/) a free to play online game developed by Ing Direct for kids from first through sixth grade to learn about earning, spending, saving and investing. It has a fun rocket ship that takes them to other continents to learn and earn orange dollars. The kids get questions on topics from the value of money, to setting a budget, to building savings goals for the future. The child has to sign up and sign in, complete with a parent email address to let you know what is going on. There are parent and teacher resources available – including plans for how to use the game in the class room and extend the activities around it.
Then there is The Great Piggybank Adventure℠(http://piggybank.disney.go.com/media/ap/piggybank/index.html) – another free to play online game for ages 8-14 and adults to learn about setting goals, saving and spending wisely, inflation, asset allocation and diversification. It simulates a board game with a dice to roll, cards to draw, choices to make. You pick a goal to start the game, then earn ‘truffles, to put in your piggybank so you can buy things, save and invest. No signup is required and it is free. The game complements the Epcot Center Innoventions Great Piggybank Adventure. It was jointly developed by T. Rowe Price and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online.
Another free to play online game is Celebrity Calamity
(http://financialentertainment.org/play/celebritycalamity.html), from Doorway 2 Dreams is, according to the Financial Entertainment website, “our first financial entertainment product, is a video game that’s fun to play and gives players valuable financial information they can use in daily life. In this game, players become the Business Manager for three up-and-coming celebrities—Alice Albudget, Buster Buyin, and Missy Moolah—who spend beyond their means. Players must effectively use a bank account, debit card, and credit card to be successful”
A site with free games and more is TheMint (http://www.themint.org/index.html) a site developed by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation to help teach kids and teens (6th – 12th graders) about personal finance. It has a number of categories of learning (such as earning, spending, giving, tracking, investing and etc. These are divided by age group into a ‘for kids’ and a ‘for teens’ area. Each category has activities, games and information. There is even a section for parents – to check up on how well they are doing training their kids!
At Practical Money Skills for Life (http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/games/)– the Visa outreach program provides a variety of free games (which by the way they let you embed on your website), such as Cash Puzzler, Countdown to Retirement and Money Metropolis which allows kids ages 7–12 to navigate a multi-dimensional world, making life decisions that will affect whether their virtual bank account shrinks or grows. They have additional games, including Peter Pig’s Money Counter where kids ages 4–7 can practice sorting and counting coins with the help of wise Peter Pig.
Yet another online game is Money$Island which was created by a former Teacher of the Year (Felix Brandon Lloyd) and is offered by BancVue to community financial institutions to brand and put on their websites. Kids are on a quest to save a broke kid. They learn saving, spending, investing and giving concepts along the way. The Young Americans Bank has it on their site (https://yacenter.moneyisland.com/index.html)
Hot Shot Business Is My Favorite
While all of the above are fun and instructive, my favorite all time free online game is Hot Shot Business – developed jointly by Disney and the Kauffmann Foundation.
It was designed for tweens ages 9 – 12. Rolled out in 2003, it reaches 20 million young folks a day – more than 66 million since rollout.
In it, kids can start and run one of 5 businesses: Candy Factory; Pet Spa; Custom Skate; Pro Landscaping; or Comic Shop. They learn about marketing campaigns, reacting to news and customer demands, as well as changing products, services and prices.
There is a kids guide, a parents guide and best of all a teachers guide. The teachers guide has pdf resources to download to help you teach advertising and marketing, lessons from real entrepreneurs (from interviews done), financials and social responsibility.
Jason Everett, Disney Online in The Making of Disney’s Hot Shot Business on the Web Marketing Association site (http://www.webmarketingassociation.org/wma_newsletter_disney.htm) described the game as follows:
- “Welcome to Opportunity City: Introduces the concepts of entrepreneurship and opportunity recognition, and touches on how businesses can give back to the community.
- Goal: The player is challenged to earn $2,000 in six virtual weeks.
- Game Week 1: The simulation begins, with a focus on responding to customer needs.
- Game Week 2: Players see how pricing decisions affect a business.
- Game Week 3: The importance of marketing is illustrated.
- Game Week 4: The difference between marketing a business and marketing products and services is shown.
- Game Week 5: Competition is introduced into the marketplace.
- Game Week 6: Game weeks 1 through 5 are brought together as the player’s business matures.
- Game Wrap-Up: Did the player succeed in meeting the challenge? Results of the simulation are analyzed.
- Biz Kit: If the players met the goal set at the beginning of the game, they are rewarded with the Biz Kit, a collection of downloadable activities that encourage continued exploration of entrepreneurship.“
Fifty kids test the game over six week long test sessions. The kids loved to tweak the various stations in their play stores as well as play over and over again. The initial instruction sequence, once developed was also put through extensive play-testing and they found that brevity and pacing were key.
Each of the businesses went through at least two weeks of play-testing. “This exercise proved one of our basic design assumptions wrong,” says Evertt, “that the interface for each business had to be identical to minimize confusion for the players. In fact, players became confused when all three worked the same way. Players responded well to a standard interface with slight customization to support the needs of each business.”
In a press release on Globe Newswire, the Kauffmann Foundation indicated:
See http://www.familymoneyvalues.com/index.php/play/games for these and other games and activities.