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Using Children's Literature to Teach Financial Literacy - Econ Lowdown Webinar Series, Episode 6

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In this session of the Econ Lowdown webinar series, a presenter from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis discusses strategies for using children's literature to teach financial literacy. Featured titles include Clifford and the Big Storm; Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday; and The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money.


Below is a full transcript of this webinar. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.

Denise Qaoud: Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s Econ Lowdown webinar. Our discussion for today focuses on using children’s literature to teach financial literacy. I’m Denise Qaoud with the St. Louis Fed, and I’ll be your facilitator. Allow me to introduce our presenter for today, Dr. Erin Yetter, senior economic education specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Louisville branch.

And we had another presenter today, Dr. Cat Timmerman, a first grade teacher at Shelby Traditional Academy and adjunct professor at University of Louisville. However, unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, our other presenter is unable to attend today. But don’t worry at all. We are in very capable hands with Erin.

Now please join me on slide two, and I’ll cover the call logistics. If you haven’t already done so yet, click on the webinar link you received after registering. This option offers a few benefits. You can watch the slides as they’re advanced. You can type questions to us, download the session materials, or even choose to listen to the audio through your PC speakers. Please note that the webinar performance is dependent upon your connection, so if at any time you’re having problems, just pick up the phone and dial the toll-free number.

If you dial in via the phone, please note that there may be up to a 30-second delay in the slide transition. So you can click the materials button to download a copy of the presentation and follow along that way if you prefer. To ask questions today, you can submit them at any time by clicking on the “ask question” button in the webinar tool. Please be sure to keep your box handy throughout the webinar, as we’ll be asking you to participate in some polling questions later on.

One additional note, the views expressed in this presentation are those of the presenter and not the official opinions of nor binding on the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis nor the Federal Reserve System. Now with all of that out of the way, let me welcome our presenter, Erin. Take it away.

Erin Yetter: Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us. We’ll go ahead into our third slide. Just want to let you know that everything I’m going to go over today on the lessons that will be presented are available to you to download at no cost and use as you wish for educational purposes at So if we can go ahead to slide four. So, today our agenda is, we’re going to talk about the benefits of using children’s literature to teach economics and personal finance topics.

I will go through and do three lesson demonstrations insomuch as you can really demonstrate things via webinar. But we are trying to make it as interactive as possible. Then the part that our co-presenter unfortunately was not able to be here for though was the tips for utilizing this in your classroom. She is an actual first grade teacher in the class right now, so she was going to give tips. But I’m going to cover her slide and do the best job possible, and then we are going to have time, of course, for a question and answer at the end.

If we can go to slide five, which is just the section header, so we can go on to slide six. So slide six is, you know, why do we want to teach economics and personal finance this way? The number one reason is that we want to get students interested and motivated to learn economics. And kids can learn economics. Studies have shown that children as young as five years old can learn basic economics concepts like opportunity cost and scarcity. And further research has also shown that it is in fact a best practice teaching method.

On to slide seven. The research was done on the benefits of teaching economics and personal finance this way, and there’s three benefits. First, it acts as a motivational strategy. Kids like to read. So they want to be reading and engaged in stories. Well, why not get them interested in economics and personal finance while they’re doing something that they already like to do, which is reading?

It helps children understand real-world applications. So it takes the learning of the content out of the classroom and shows that it’s applicable in other situations, such as children’s literature. And, third, it has positive spillover effects. That means that you’re able to kill two birds with one stone. You’re teaching English language arts and you’re teaching economics and personal finance social studies—two for one. Hurray!

And we’ll go on to slide eight. Cultivating motivation and interest. So why do we care about doing that? Well, you know that increased interest means that there’s an easier time in learning. And when you have an increased motivation, there’s increased learning. And then the final question to ask is, “Okay, that’s all great. We understand doing it has positive spillover effects. But can children learn economics this way?” And the answer is, yes, they can.

Okay, so now that I got ahead of myself, we’re really going to go on now to Alexander, which is slide 10. Okay. So, as I was saying, the grade level that this is geared towards is K-2. That’s the grade level we think the economics and personal finance content is appropriate for, not necessarily the reading level or the Lexile level of the children’s literature book. Very often we will use a lower-level Lexile reading level book for—and a higher-level economics concept. And we find that actually works well. The concepts that we’re going to talk about in this lesson are opportunity cost saving, savings goal, and spending.

So moving on to slide 11. You’re going to start the lesson with a discussion about, “What do people use money for?” And students can answer in a variety of ways. They might say that people use money to buy things, to pay for things. People save money. Then you’re going to show them a dollar bill and you’re going to discuss the following. Is the dollar bill—is this dollar the same amount of money as 100 pennies? And students may or may not know the answer, depending what grade level you are. And then you’re going to ask them, “If you wanted to buy a candy bar and the price was $1, could you buy it with the dollar bill?” And the answer is yes.

Moving on to slide 12. Then you’re going to show them an empty container and explain that there are—we’re going to fill the container with pennies, and we’re going to count as we do so. And we’re going to do 100 pennies. And there’s various ways that we can count to 100. We can do it one at a time—one, two, three, four, five.

We can count by fives, tens, fifteens, twenties. In this case, we’re going to count by two. So you’re going to hand out pennies to all of the students, and you’re going to call on them row by row or student by student and ask them to drop into the jar two pennies at a time, and as they do so, to practice counting by twos.

Go on to slide 13. Okay. You’re then going to tell them that we’re going to listen to a story about a boy named Alexander who had a dollar. And Alexander had two choices of what to do with his dollar. He could either save it or he could spend it. And spending is using all or some of your money now to buy things that you want. And saving is keeping some of your money now to buy things in the future. It is not spending.

On to the next slide. And at this point I’m going to read you an excerpt of Alexander. So let’s listen carefully for what Alexander gets and how he makes some spending or saving choices. “Last Sunday Grandma Betty and Grandpa Louie came to visit New Jersey. They brought lox because my father likes to eat lox. And they brought plants because my mother likes to grow plants.”

Next slide. “They brought a dollar for me and a dollar for Nick and a dollar for Anthony, because Mom says—and this isn’t nice to say—we like money, a lot, especially me. My father told me to put the dollar away to pay for college. He was kidding.” Next. “Anthony told me to use the dollar to go downtown to a store and buy a new face. Anthony stinks. Nicky said to take the dollar and burn it in the garden, and in a week a dollar tree would grow. Ha, ha, ha.

“Mom said, if I really want to buy a walkie-talkie, save my money. Saving money is hard, because last Sunday when I used to be rich, I went to Pearson’s Drug Store and got bubble gum. And after the gum stopped tasting good, I got more gum. And after that gum stopped tasting good, I got more gum. And even though I told my friend David I’d sell him all the gum in my mouth for a nickel, he still wouldn’t buy it. Goodbye 15 cents.

“Last Sunday when I used to be rich, I bet that I could hold my breath till 300. Anthony won. I bet that I could jump from the top of the stoop and land on my feet. Nicky won. I bet that I could hide this purple marble in my hand and my mom would never guess which hand I was hiding it in. I didn’t know that moms made children pay. Goodbye another 15 cents. I absolutely was saving the rest of my money. I positively was saving the rest of my money, except that Eddie called me up and said that he would rent me his snake for an hour. I always wanted to rent his snake for an hour. Goodbye 12 cents.”

Okay. So we can see from that story that Alexander was making some spending decisions instead of some saving decisions. The activity that goes along with this lesson is this chart that we’re showing right now. You give it—it’s a handout in the appendix of the lesson. You give it to the students and you ask them to color—as Alexander spends his pennies on various things, color in the amount that he spends.

So if you remember from the excerpt that I just read, he spent 15 cents on chewing gum. So they would count up to 15 boxes and shade it all in. And then he made some bets that he unfortunately lost and had to pay up. He again spent 15 cents on those and so forth. So, not only are they learning about the concepts of saving and spending, they are also creating a bar chart, which is a math concept.

So you’re getting math, ELA, and financial literacy in this. Wonderful stuff. So I want you to take a quick look, study this chart real quick, because we’re going to ask you a polling question about what Alexander spent the most money on. Denise, if you would go ahead and do that.

Denise Qaoud: All right. So at this time you should see a polling question popping up on your screen here in just a moment. Go ahead and make your selection while I read the question out loud. Based on the bar graph, on what did Alexander spend the most money? A, gum, B, garage sale, C, candy bar, or D, bets. So finish up making your selection. And I’m going to go ahead and stop the poll and show the results. We should see that here in just a few minutes. Wow, okay. 100% say B, garage sale. Erin, back to you.

Erin Yetter: Thank you. And that is the correct answer. So you guys get a gold star for paying attention and getting that correct. If we could go on to the next slide. So there’s some various others and other debriefing questions provided in the lesson that you’re going to ask the students to talk about that bar chart that we just created. What did Alexander spent the most money on? As you guys just correctly answered, it was the garage sale item. What did he spend the least amount of money on? The magic trick.

And how much was the difference between the amount he spent at the garage sale and the amount he spent on gum? Five cents. They’re doing a little subtraction problem there. And then you’re going to ask them, “What do you think about the spending decisions that Alexander made?” And answers will vary. But they’ll probably say that he didn’t make very good ones. He made pretty frivolous spending decisions. And if Alexander really wanted that walkie-talkie, what should he have been doing? And the answer is that he should have been saving his money.

So if we could go to the next slide. The next concept that comes up in the lesson is that you talk about, by spending his dollar in various penny amounts, Alexander gave out that dollar, and he gave it out towards savings for his walkie-talkie. And any time we make a choice, the next-best thing that’s given up is called our opportunity cost. And opportunity cost applies to spending and saving in the following ways. When we spend money, the opportunity cost is being able to save the money in order to spend it later. And when we save money, the opportunity cost is being able to spend it and enjoy something now.

We’ll go on to the next slide, which is 27. So at this point you will tell the students that Alexander had a savings goal. And you’ll tell them that a savings goal is a good or a service that you want to buy in the future. And you’ll ask them what was Alexander saving for? And the answer is a walkie-talkie. Why do you think it was—Alexander said it was hard to save that money? And the answers will vary, but students will probably say that it was hard—it’s hard to save for something we want in the future when there are things we’d like to buy today. Right?

And then to ask them, “What advice would you give Alexander to help him reach his goal?” And they should say things like, “Don’t spend your money on small, silly stuff. Behave so you don’t have to pay fines.” I know that’s not a part that we read, but later on he says some bad words and he gets fined from his dad. Be careful not to lose his money. That’s something else he does. And stop spending and start saving.

Please go to the next slide. The next activity is that you’re going to ask the students to—you’re going to distribute a piece of paper, and you’re going to ask the students to draw something that they are saving money for. So you’re going to ask them to write at the top or the bottom “my savings goal” and then draw a picture of something that they are saving for. So I went ahead and did this, and my savings goal is a beautiful cruise on the SS Relaxation. So that’s what I’m saving my money for.

If we could go to the next slide, 29. Not all of our lessons have this, but many do, is that we try to also incorporate musical or—we incorporated art in the last—with the handout asking them to draw a picture. But we’re also incorporating music here. So I am going to torture you and sing a little bit of this. And we always tell you the tune, so this is “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”

(Singing.) If you spend all your money, spend it every day. If you’re tempted by the small stuff or you don’t keep your money safe, you’ll be just like Alexander left with lots of junk today. If you spend all your money, you won’t reach your goal. Save some money now.

Okay, that’s probably enough. You guys get the drift. The students really like this. And it might seem a little silly, but I often find that after I’ve taught this lesson, I’ll hear students singing it in the hallway for days thereafter. Not the “I’ll be Working on the Railroad” but the actual saving and spending version of it. So it’s a pretty great way for them to remember the topic.

So if we’ll go on to the next slide, which is 30. We’re going to move on to our next lesson, which is the lovable big red dog, Clifford. And this story is Clifford and the Big Storm by Norman Bridwell. The grade level that the personal finance concept is appropriate for is one, first through third. And the concept we’re teaching here is risk. And risk might seem like a concept you’re like, “Wow. Do little kids really need to know about risk?” Yes, they do. And it’s a concept—by grade four—the National Council for Economic Education says that they should know by grade four.

So if we could go to the next slide. 31 is the slide we’re on. You’re going to begin this lesson by posing a few scenarios to the students. And you’re going to ask them which scenario is more dangerous. So, scenario one. Is A or B more dangerous? A, which is skydiving, and you might have to differ on that, which is jumping out of an airplane, or B, drinking a glass of milk with breakfast. So have them answer, and they’re going to tell you their answers on the board.

Go to the next one and say scenario two, driving a race car or jumping rope at recess. And then, finally, scenario three, walking to school or riding your bike in your neighborhood. Then you’re going to discuss how the students voted. The students probably had an easier time voting and distinguishing between the first two scenarios, recognizing that option A was the riskier or more dangerous—we haven’t said risk yet—the more dangerous option.

However, scenario three was probably a little bit more challenging. They might have even been split or said that neither one of those things was dangerous. And you’re going to explain to them the concepts that—the next part is to explain the concept that we’re teaching in this lesson, which is risk. And risk is defined as the chance of loss or harm. And we face risks every single day. Some things, like skydiving, are much riskier than others, like drinking milk.

If you can go to the next slide, 33. And when the risk is low, when risk is low, we usually just accept the risk and do the activity anyway. In fact, you probably don’t even see that the activity is even risky. When the chance of risk is high, like with skydiving, you have two options. You can either avoid the risk entirely—don’t do it—or reduce the risk. And I define those two things. So avoiding means you just don’t do the activity and reducing means you take precautions or steps to mitigate the risk.

We’ll go to the next slide, 34. And now we’re going back to our scenarios. So is there a risk associated with driving a race car? And the answer is yes. So then you ask the students, “Well, what is the risk?” And they should say things like, “Well, you could get into an accident or get hurt. You could even die driving a race car.” So when an activity is risky, you can choose, as we already said, to avoid the risk or take precautions against it.

In this case, if you choose to avoid the risk, what do you do? And the answer is, you just don’t drive that race car. If you want to reduce the risk, what precautions could you take? So you’re still going to drive the race car, but what do you want to do to make yourself safer? And they should say things like, “Wear a seatbelt, wear a helmet, goggles, a fireproof race suit or other safety equipment. They should get the proper training.” Those types of things.

Then we’re going to move on to—oh, I’m sorry, next slide, 35. And we’re going to talk about that third scenario that they might have had a little bit more difficult time with. So is the risk involved with jumping rope [unintelligible 00:21:04]? And the answer is, yes, there is. And you ask them, well, what is that risk? And the answer is, you could trip on the rope. You could fall and get hurt. You could get your legs tangled. So, again, we can either avoid or reduce.

So, if we want to avoid the risk of jumping rope, what do we do? The answer is, we just don’t jump rope. And if we want to reduce the risk of jumping rope, what do we do? And we could say a variety of things, such as make sure you have a—you know, a good jump rope, that the area is clear, your shoes are tied, the floor isn’t slippery, or what—or those types of things.

And we can go to the next slide. And now we are going to read an excerpt—not the entire thing, just another excerpt—of Clifford and the Big Storm. And we’re going to hear about risks associated with... Okay. “One day we couldn’t go swimming or fishing. We heard that a big storm was coming up the coast. The police told everybody along the shore to leave for a safer place. Grandma hated to leave her little home. Clifford took us away from the beach to a high school gym.”

Now on 38, I think. “We were safe there, but Clifford knew that Grandma was worried about her house. He hurried back to the beach. The wind and rain could not stop him. The storm was bad. Trees were falling down. Big waves were crashing up on the shore. Grandma’s house was in danger. Clifford had to do something. First he picked up some fallen trees. He piled the trees in back of Grandmom’s house, and then he covered them with sand. The sand pile would block the waves.

While Clifford was packing down the sand, he saw a bolt of lightning hit the house—hit the lighthouse, sorry. The lighthouse began to burn. Clifford knew just what to do. Whoosh, the fire was out. Then, over the roar of the storm, Clifford heard another sound. It was two puppies. They were scared. Clifford reached the puppies just in time.

He made sure his new friends were safe. Then he ran back to Grandma’s. Oh, there was more trouble. Two boats were loose in the waves. They were about to crash. Clifford brought them safely ashore. The waves kept getting bigger. Clifford was afraid the sand pile would be washed away. He lay down to guard the house. What would happen next?

And at this point we actually have a poll question to ask you, what do you think would happen next. Denise?

Denise Qaoud: That’s right. At this time you should see a polling question popping up on your screen. Go ahead and make your selection at this time while I read the question and answers out loud. What do you think happens next? A, the waves knock Clifford down. B, Clifford stays on top of the sand all night and protects the house. C, Emily, Elizabeth, and Grandma survive the storm. Or, D, both two and three are correct. So go ahead and make your selection at this time.

I’ll wait just a minute and let people finish up selecting their answers. And at this time I just want to remind you, if you do have any questions, you can just simply click the “ask question” button in the webinar platform to submit your question to Erin. So I will go ahead now and stop the poll. And let’s see what our results are. So that should pop up here in just a couple of minutes. Okay. Well, it looks like 100% say D, both two and three are correct. Erin?

Erin Yetter: And you all would be correct. We’ve got some smart participants on this webinar today. So good job, everyone. If you go to the next slide. So the next slide is going to show a handout from the lesson. In this handout students are given strips of events that happened in the story, and they’re asked to cut out the word strips and glue the strips in the box in the order that they occurred in the story. And what they’re putting into order is the steps that Clifford took to protect the house from risk. So this is an ELA Common Core standard in that it’s asking them to recall details from the story and put them into sequential order.

If we could go to the next slide. Slide 47 we’re on now. So this is actually a part of the assessment from the lesson. And all of our lessons come with assessments ready to go. We are also assessing—we’re assessing the objectives for the lesson, but we’re also assessing for transfer. Can they take what they learned in one concept—or in context—and apply it to another context? So they learned about risk and they heard about it with skydiving and they heard it about jumping rope, but they didn’t hear about it with fire safety. So can we apply that here and see what they learned?

So they’re given a variety of pictures and they’re asked to cross off the pictures that do not show how you would reduce the risk or avoid the risk of fire in your home and circle the ones that do do those things. So, if you look at the very first one, the upper left-hand corner there’s a student—or a child wearing a seatbelt in the car. And while that is something that we would do to help us reduce the risk of getting hurt in a car accident, that is not something we would do to help us reduce the risk of fire, so they would cross that off.

The second one is installing smoke detectors. So that is something that they would do to help them reduce the risk of fire in the house, so they would circle that one. And I used to remember the date off the top of my head, but there is a month where we talk about it’s National Fire Safety Month. So this could be a great lesson that you do during that month in the school year.

We’ll go on to the next slide. We’re going to go to our third and final lesson, mini-lesson demonstration, with the Berenstain Bears, Trouble with Money. Again, the grade level we think here that the economics and personal finance is appropriate for is grades one through three. Two concepts in this—Banks: What are banks and what is interest? And then we also have some ELA cross-curriculum concepts in this in that there are captions and figures of speech provided in this particular story.

So if you’ll go to the next slide. And in the warm-up for the lesson you show them this visual, which has a few pictures on it. And you ask them if they know what those explanatory words underneath the pictures are. What are those guys called? And they’re called captions. And you’re going to tell them that a caption is a written explanation that accompanies a picture.

So we can go to the next slide. [Unintelligible 00:29:00] you’re going to actually show them two pictures from the book. And you’re going to say, hey, here’s two pictures from the actual—from the story. Brother Bear and Sister Bear are thinking about something. And what point are these two pictures trying to make? Those are kind of silly. Well, work with a partner to create a caption. If you had to write about what was going on in those two pictures, what would you say is going on?

And, again, you’re going to reiterate that a caption is a written explanation that accompanies a picture, and it does so to explain what is going on in this picture. So you’ll give them a few minutes to do that. And then you’ll go around and ask them. And, clearly, you and I know that this is a Papa Bear saying that money doesn’t grow on trees—that’s the one on the right—and that he is not made of money. And both of those are figures of speech, is which another concept taught in this lesson.

So if we could go to the next slide. Kind of going over this one at a higher level. You will have talked about and read the story a little bit further, which is a—you know, talk about what a bank is. A bank is a safe place to keep our money. A bank is a place that pays us interest, which is money that we get for keeping our money there. A higher-level definition is the cost of borrowing money.

But younger students, elementary students, tend to do better with the definition that it’s money that the bank keeps—pays us to keep our money there. So you’re going to ask them to draw a picture of a bank and then write a sentence or two captioning it, explaining what is going on. So I went ahead and drew a picture here. And this is two friends leaving the bank. And the caption is, “After our piggybanks were full, we took them to the bank.”

Okay. So now we’re going to go on, and I’m going to read you just two—a few pages, four pages, from the Berenstain Bears Trouble with Money that illustrate the figures of speech concept and then some things about money. So this is a little bit into the story where Brother Bear and Sister Bear have been spending frivolously and they ask for some more money. And father bear gets—Papa Bear gets very upset.

“A videogame at the mall, [unintelligible 00:31:23]. You must think I’m made of money. [Unintelligible 00:31:26] no such thing.” And when they pictured it, it seemed very strange. Mama could see that they were puzzled, and she explained. “Made of money is just a figure of speech, my dears.” That’s when the cubs realized that the situation was serious, because Papa Bear only used figures of speech when he was upset. “You must think money grows on trees,” he shouted. Another figure of speech.

The next slide. “Video games indeed,” he continued booming, more and more upset. “There was no such thing as videogames when I was a cub. Well, I didn’t know what money was until I was almost grown.” “Precisely, my dear,” interrupted Mama. “And that’s why this might be a very good time to start Brother and Sister on a regular allowance so they can—”

“Absolutely not,” roared Papa, knocking over a chair. “They must earn their money. That’s what life is about, working, earning money, saving for a rainy day.” The cubs knew how serious this situation must be. Papa had used three figures of speech and knocked over a chair. They decided right then and there to mend their careless spendthrift ways.

Next, after reading the story, there’s another handout where you give them a story map. So if we’ll go to the next slide, it shows the story map. And then at the end of the story is that they do things to earn money, and then they take their money and put it in the bank. So the event is that Brother and Sister Bear put their money in the bank. And you have the students go through and ask a variety of—ask and answer a variety of questions. When, who, how, where, and why, and what was the significance of doing that? And then we provide you an answer key to that handout as well.

So, at this point, we are done with the lesson presentation portion of it. And we were going to, again, turn it over to Cat Timmerman to talk about how she utilizes these lessons and these books in her classroom. Unfortunately, she had an emergency and was unable to attend. But we are going to pause here and take some time for questions if there are any at this point. Denise?

Denise Qaoud: Yeah, we do have a couple of questions. Are these lessons standards-based?

Erin Yetter: That’s a great question. They are standards-based. We map our lessons to the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics and Personal Finance by the Council for Economic Education. We also map them to the Common Core standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

We do not map to individual state social studies standards because our district encompasses all or part of seven states. And, as many of you know, standards are often changing. So we would do nothing but map to state standards if we did do that. But we map to the national standards and know that teachers are smart enough to be able to go from there. Okay, any other questions?

Denise Qaoud: Just one other question at this time. Do you provide any accompaniments such as interactive whiteboard slides?

Erin Yetter: Oh, that’s a great question. Yes, we do. So not only do we provide these lessons at no cost to you on our website where you can download them at any time, we also provide accompaniments in the form of whiteboards, interactive whiteboards. We write to Promethean and Smart. So they’re the brands of whiteboards that we write to. And the reason we picked those two brands is that they’re the best-selling in the United States.

So if you own a SMART Board and want to teach that Trouble for Money lesson, we already have all the slides and interactivity for you, where the students would be coming up to the board and clicking and moving and interacting. And you don’t have to do anything to create that. It’s already created for you.

Denise Qaoud: Okay. Thank you. At this time I don’t see any further questions. But, again, if you do have a question, just go ahead and submit it via the “ask question” button.

Erin Yetter: We’re going to move on, and I’m going to do my best to fill in for what Cat would have said. I am a poor substitute for her, so she is a veteran classroom teacher or she has a doctorate. She’s a children’s literature author herself. And she actually teaches the children’s literature course at our local university, the University of Louisville. So that’s why I asked her to help present today. So what she does, she actually uses our lessons as-is.

You know, her mantra is, “Why recreate something that’s already wonderful? I’m just going to use it and adapt it to what my students need,” which is of course what everyone does in the classroom. So her suggestion really is to just use what we already have and then, you know, tweak it what the needs of your classrooms are. So she had some suggestions about how you would do that and a process that she goes through pretty much every time she’s teaching a children’s literature-based lesson.

And so these are her processes. Number one, reference the learning target. So all of our lessons at the beginning of the lessons have objectives that are clearly measureable. And so she references those and talks about them and then shows the students the book. She asks the cover of the book. Then she’ll next ask for any guesses based on the cover as to what they think it’s going to be about.

So if you were showing the Berenstain Bears Trouble with Money—I know you don’t have the cover in front of you, but there’s a picture—the picture is Brother Bear and Sister Bear sneaking into their room with a hammer, like going towards their piggybank like they’re going to break it up. So the students might say, “Uh-oh, they’re going to open up that piggybank. They’re not making good choices.”

Then they’re going to—and the third thing she does is she takes what she calls a story walk, where she just goes through the story and shows the illustrations. She does not do any reading so far. And she just asks them to then further their thinking. Now based on the illustrations, what do they think is going on? And then she’ll ask them to make a connection about what they’re currently studying. Why would I be choosing this book to talk about right now? How does it coincide with what we’re learning?

All right, to the next slide. Okay. The fifth part in her process is that she always asks open-ended questions. She tries—she says she prides herself on asking divergent questions. Right? Open-ended questions, not convergent or closed-ended questions such as like definitions—so that the students have the opportunity to scaffold what they’ve already been studying. And it allows them to tap prior knowledge.

And this is a common research-based pedagogical practice—retrieval is what you might have heard it called—where they’re able to pull up things from the past and make contextual observations to what’s going on in the present. They can also make text-to-self, text-to-text, or text-to-world combination connections, which, you know, if you are finding yourself in a Common Core state, that is a very Common Core thing to do.

She then asks them to turn and talk to their shoulder partner or elbow buddy and discuss the connections that they made. And then she has them get up and go to another pod. The way she has her classroom set up is in fours, so they always have an elbow buddy right to their next person. And then they switch. They’re doing basically a jigsaw method to discussing the connections that they made.

So if we’ll go to the next slide. Then they’ll come back together, and as a whole group they will do an anchor chart and choose just to do the anchor chart based on the connections that they made or predictions that they have about what’s going to happen in the story and key vocabulary.

And notice that, up until now, we still have not read the story. That’s our last and final step is to read the story and stop and ask—make sure you’re stopping along the way asking—text or comprehension, right? You’re formatively assessing, making sure that they know what’s going on, and again, making sure to ask those convergent or open-ended questions.

Next slide. So, some other books that I did not discuss that she regularly uses in her classroom and that we have lessons for on our website are these two—Uncle Jed’s Barbershop and How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. She specifically picked these two books because she said she loves Uncle Jed’s because it’s a really heartwarming family story. She uses it during Black History Month to talk about that. It’s set during the Great Depression, so there’s a historical aspect that she can talk about as well.

Then How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. In that story the little girl goes to the store to buy an apple pie, and the store is closed. So she must travel around the world and find all the ingredients to make apple pie. So she goes to Jamaica for sugar cane, for example. And why she loves that book is that she can integrate virtual field trips, which is obviously a geography integration. So another cross-curriculum opportunity there.

And then, finally, she says that she uses these stories for on-demand writing, portfolio pieces, as well as opinion and expository writing pieces, again, all very Common Core things to do. So that is the end of Cat’s presentation. And at this point we will open it up to any final thoughts and questions. And I will say that, although Cat was not on today, if you do have questions specific for her and how she implements these in her classroom, you can put that in the question box and we will make sure that she gets the questions and gets back to you. So Denise, do we have any final questions?

Denise Qaoud: Ah, yeah, we do have a couple of questions. The first one is, where are the SMART Board resources located?

Erin Yetter: They are located right on that same website that I’ve put you to towards the front, where I said When you go in there and you look for any particular lesson, the lesson, a PDF will come up of the regular old hard copy lesson. And then you’ll see the different files for the SMART Board accompaniments. We’ll have a file for the Promethean and a file for the SMART.

Denise Qaoud: Thanks, Erin. Let’s see, next question. What is the best way to keep up with your new materials and professional development offering?

Erin Yetter: That’s a great question, because if you are a frequent user of our website, you know how much new content goes up on a regular basis. And it’s insanity to try and keep up with it, the amount of great stuff we have going on. So the best way is to sign up for our newsletter, which is on that website. Or just frequently check back to the website by going to the And there’s a filtering tab on the side, and you can sort by alphabetical A to Z, or you can sort by release date.

If you do it by release date, that shows you the newest lessons first. So you’ll always see the newest and greatest, latest stuff. But I recommend the newsletter, because that’s a one-stop shop for all of our offerings. You’ll see all of our professional development. You would see—like for example, this webinar would have been advertised on there. You’ll see when we have new curriculum going up and so forth.

Denise Qaoud: Thank you, Erin. And, just to let you know, we’re getting a lot of questions asking for the website again, so I went ahead and pulled up that slide so everybody can see that, and you can go ahead and copy and paste that into your browser, even, if you would like to. One more question that we have coming in. How many other children’s literature books do you have economics and personal finance lessons for?

Erin Yetter: Ah, that’s a great, great question. I was just going to go look—63. I just looked on the website right now, so 63. And there’s a lot of very popular books. We always try to write lessons for books that are currently in print that you’re not going to have any problems going—either getting on Amazon or getting at your local library. We don’t want something that’s hard for you to track down. So we use a lot of—I personally use a lot of Berenstain Bears and write to that.

But Max and Ruby and Alexander, Sky Boys by a wonderful author called Deborah Hopkinson who writes for historical fiction. So we have a lot of really, really wonderful children’s literature lessons. And they’re award-winning. That’s something that I didn’t mention yet, is that the National Association for Economic Educators awards curriculum awards annually, and we are consistently recognized with gold or above awards—gold or platinum awards—for our lessons.

Denise Qaoud: Wow, that’s wonderful, Erin. I didn’t even realize that. Okay. So I don’t see any more questions at this time. If you do have a question, go ahead and submit it via the “ask question” button. I’ll pause just a minute to see if we have any more questions coming in. And, Erin, do you have any closing comments?

Erin Yetter: I don’t, but all of our contact information is on that same website. So if at any time you have a question about, you know, “What could I be doing? I already have this book. Does it have some economics in it?” we would be happy to answer those types of questions for you. So email us at any time, and there is no charge for anything that we do. I want to reiterate that again. You can download our lessons, use our whiteboards, and you’re never going to see any type of cost come from us for using our resources.

Denise Qaoud: Okay. Thanks, Erin. All right, so at this time I don’t see any more questions rolling in. So I think we can go ahead and wrap up. So, if you joined us via the webinar tool, you likely saw a survey link pop up on your screen. Please take a moment to complete that and let us know how we did.

We’ll also be sending the survey out via email. And you’ll only need to fill it out once. We really value the feedback, so please take just a moment and fill that out. And, with that, I’ll officially bring this session to a close. Thank you so much for joining us today, and enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you.


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Audience:   Elementary School
Language:   English
Subjects:   Economics, Personal Finance
Resource Types:   Webinar