Can first graders learn frugality? The results are in!

Can first graders learn frugality? The results are in!

Yesterday I taught a classroom of first graders about money: how to earn it, save it, invest it, you-name-it. Wow, was it fun!

The first test I gave them was what I call The Jelly Bean Experiment. I handed out one jelly bean to each child, but warned them: “You can eat this now if you want. But if you wait a little bit, you can have a whole box of jelly beans.” The kids, ecstatic beyond belief, bragged to each other about waiting, with one group even chanting, “WAIT! WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!”

Clearly, they were fast learners about the benefits of delayed gratification. For the adult readers here, you’ve probably already figured out my goal: to teach them about saving and—yes, I dared—compound interest. Instead of spending your money (eating the jelly bean), they could invest their money (save their jelly bean) and earn even more money (more jelly beans).

Thirty minutes later—after my thorough presentation which even included possible saving strategies for iCarly and Luke Skywalker—I was so proud to see that every single 7-year-old in the class was patient enough to resist the temptation of eating their one jelly bean. As I passed out the boxes of jelly beans, the kids gladly munched away on their one original candy.

Well, all except for one kid, who, even after he got the box, said he was going to wait to eat that one jelly bean until tomorrow. Now there’s a future saver of America.

How would you teach kids about money? And what do you think of The Jelly Bean Experiment?

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