The Federal Reserve wants to send you free teaching tools. Here’s how to get them.
The Federal Reserve mostly occupies itself with setting a little thing called national monetary policy. But from San Francisco to Richmond, from Dallas to Boston, the 12 district banks of the Federal Reserve are also beacons of financial education. There’s something for everyone: parents looking for children’s games, teachers looking for classroom swag, or wannabe Fed chairs who think they have what it takes to keep inflation down and the economy humming. For educators, parents, and sixth-grade econ wonks, here’s a roundup of free education tools from Fed banks around the country, and how to get them:
With Pig E. Bank (get it?) as their cheerful porcine chaperone, kids who write, draw and puzzle their way through the 32-page Piggy Bank Primer will learn key saving and budgeting concepts like wants vs. needs, tracking your spending, and opportunity cost. For teachers, there’s a guide to accompany the colorful workbook.
Issued by: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Age range: grades 2-4
Once Upon a Dime (2017) chronicles the beginnings of a financial system on a faraway planet called Novus, where the industrious citizens move from bartering to currency to banks to the makings of a central bank. In The Story of the Federal Reserve System (2018), Planet Novus sends three oddball representatives named Flora, Glix, and Rallo to Earth to learn about the U.S. central banking system. Hijinks, and dense exposition, ensue. The two titles are updates from the Fed’s surprisingly extensive library of comic books from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Lesson plans for teachers are also available.
Issued by: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Age range: middle school and high school
How to get: download
Pop quiz! The Fifty Nifty Econ Cards cover economic concepts suitable for kindergartners (“Wants: Things people like and desire”) through middle schoolers (“Standard of Living: A level of material comfort in everyday life that is measured by the goods and services available to an individual, group, or nation”). I especially like this elegantly simple definition of Finance: “the management of money.” If you’re an educator, you can get a free deck of 4-by-8-inch cards (there are actually 57 terms) along with a teacher’s guide packed with activities and games.
Issued by: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Age range: elementary and middle school
Econ Explorers offers older grade schoolers a set of projects with titles like Price Hunter and Earning a Living. It requires work outside of school—such as surveying prices at local stores or interviewing a grown-up whose job you admire—ensuring that the whole family can get involved in learning real-life economic lessons. (We designed some similar activities right here on BethKobliner.com: 10 dreamy jobs for parents to share with kids and Make Kid a Money Genius: The Activity Kit.)
Issued by: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Age range: grades 4-6
How to get: download
To introduce young kids to the economic problem of scarce resources, there’s Wishes and Rainbows, a children’s story about the introduction of colored flowers into a town that has never seen color. Get ready to learn all about Pebbleton and Colorland, and what happens when our unlimited wants come up against limited resources. Educators can download a teacher’s guide called The Road to Roota that explores all the implications of this peculiar allegory, from basic to esoteric (for older students).
Issued by: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Age range: grades K-4
How to get: download
Thanks to this well-designed series of visual guides, desk-bound high schoolers whose eyes wander to the classroom walls can deepen their knowledge of a range of economic and personal finance concepts, including GDP, supply and demand, and saving and investing. Teachers who order a complete set will get 15 colorful 9-by-37-inch posters. That’s 416 square feet of free wall coverage!
Issued by: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Age range: high school
Making change with cash teaches kids numeracy, a key skill, and the slim My Money workbook schools kids thoroughly on coin recognition and counting. For parents, the puzzles and activities will occupy any kid for an idle hour or two. And students can use them to help their meet benchmarks for national standards in Economics and Financial Literacy—no teacher’s guide required.
Issued by: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
Age range: elementary school
The somewhat terrifying opening screen of Chair the Fed speaks for itself: “Think you have what it takes to run our country’s central bank? See if you can achieve full employment and low inflation as Chair of the Fed.” After you try (and likely fail, over and over) to stabilize a simulated economy by deciding whether to hike or lower interest rates, you’ll learn to appreciate how monetary policy works. (And the fact that, phew, it’s not your hand on the lever.)
Issued by: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Age range: middle school through adult
How to get: play online