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Get Real: Teaching Financial
Literacy Through Internet Sites

Joanne Caniglia and Barbara Leapard

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Follow-Up Reflections

Helping students to reflect on their experience at the Reality Store® is essential to for the learning process. Supervisors at Station 15 distribute the reflection questions. Students are to complete these and they will serve as discussion starters for the next day's class (See Appendix B for sample questions).


There has never been a more “teachable moment” than the current economic recession and financial crisis to increase awareness and support for economic and financial education. Research indicates that highly interactive, reality-based activities in financial literacy are effective in developing financially competent teens. Students see the relationship between education and income, the responsibilities and pressures of having to earn for a family while securing retirement funds. The Reality Store® is one such program that is relevant to the lives of middle and high school students.

Creating an online version helps to expand the possibilities and accessibility to many students. In addition to using the Reality Store® in a classroom setting, parents can use the online version to discuss the value of education and the many responsibilities and privileges that accompany adulthood. Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke (April, 2009) reiterated the need for improved financial literacy . “The financial preparedness of our nation's youth is essential to their well-being and of vital importance to our economic future. In light of the problems that have arisen in the subprime mortgage market, we are reminded of how critically important it is for individuals to become financially literate at an early age so that they are better prepared to make decisions and navigate an increasingly complex financial marketplace. Choosing a credit card, saving for retirement or for a child's education, or buying a home now requires more financial savvy than ever before .”


Business and Professional Women's Clubs of Indiana. (2009). Reality Store ®. Knightswown, IA.

Beverly, S.G., & Burhalter, E.K. (2005). Improving the financial literacy and practices of youths. Children and Schools, 27(2), 121- 124.

Greenspan, A. (2005). The importance of financial education today. Social Education, 6(2), 64-65.

Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. (2008). Financial literacy: Improving education 2008 National Jump$tart Coalition Survey. Retrieved from:

Morton, J.S. (2005). The interdependence of economic and personal finance education. Social Education. 69(2), 66-68.

National Council on Economic Education. (2009). National summit on economic and financial literacy. Retrieved from:

Oh, E. (2002). Teaching software engineering through simulation. In Proceedings of the 2002 International Conference on Software Engineering Doctoral Symposium , Orlando, Florida, May 2002. Retrieved January 4, 2007, from:

Suiter, M., & Meszaros, B T. (2005). Teaching about saving and investing in the elementary and middle school grades. Social Education, 69(2), 92-95.

US Department of Labor. (2005) Occupational outlook handbook. Retrieved from: .

Wilhelm, W.J., & Chao, C. (2005). Personal financial literacy: Shaping education policy. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 47(1), 20-35.



Joanne Caniglia, Ph.D. teaches mathematics methods at Kent State University. She has implemented the Reality Store throughout middle school in Michigan and Ohio. Her students have served as station supervisors. Joanne's research interests focus on professional development models in urban communities.
330-672-0615 OFFICE
330-672-0616 FAX

Barbara Leapard, Ph.D., teaches mathematics methods at Eastern Michigan University. She has taught courses in educational technology and has spoken extensively on meaningful tasks in the middle school classroom. Barbara is the author of many articles on mathematics education and technology.
734-487-1444 OFFICE
734-487-2489 FAX

Appendix A 

Additional Resources for Educators on Financial Literacy

American Savings Education Council (ASEC)
(202) 775-6360
ASEC is a coalition of private and public institutions that offers a variety of resources that focus on the importance of and strategies for saving.

The Business and Professional Women's Club of Indiana, Department of Education of Indiana, Department of Education of New York
The Business and Professional Women's Clubs of Indiana developed the Reality Store®, and the Departments of Education of Indiana and New York disseminate materials and resources.

Consumer Action

(415) 777-9648
Consumer Action is a nonprofit, membership-based organization. It runs the National Consumer Resource Center, operates a free consumer hotline and offers free multilingual publications on consumer and personal finance issues.

Consumers Union
(914) 378-2000
Consumers Union is a nonprofit resource organization for consumers. It publishes Consumer Reports, advocates on behalf of consumers, and coordinates research and education projects on consumer, legislative, and regulatory issues.

Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
(202) 720-7441
State Extension programs, which are run by the US Department of Agriculture and housed in public universities around the country, promote family economics, financial literacy, and consumer education in urban and rural locations.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
(800) 934-3342
FDIC has a host of information on financial literacy and basic banking. FDIC also runs the MoneySmart program, which works with community groups, financial institutions, and governmental bodies to implement financial literacy programs and bilingual curricula.

Financial Literacy 2010
(703) 276-1116
This program partners the Investors Protection Trust, National Association of Securities Dealers, North American Securities Administrators Association, and State Securities Agencies to promote financial literacy programs in public high schools. Teachers share information and resources on the organization's website.

Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE)
(619) 239-1401
The Institute is a nonprofit coalition of financial planners that works to educate, motivate, and empower the public to do a better job of spending, saving, investing, and planning. They offer curricula and resources on these issues.

Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy
(888) 45-educate
Jump$tart is a partnership of organizations and individuals that promotes financial education in schools. It has created a comprehensive clearinghouse of personal finance resources, a national public relations campaign for improving financial literacy, and it promotes curriculum standards for various grades.

Junior Achievement (JA)
(719) 540-8000
Junior Achievement's mission is to teach business and entrepreneurship skills to youth. JA has developed curricula for grades K-12.

(217) 333-4901
Money2000 is run through the Cooperative Extension System and helps people increase savings and reduce debt. It offers personalized financial education classes, materials, and resources, and runs a program called America Saves.

National Council on Economic Education (NCEE)
(800) 338-1192
NCEE is a nonprofit coalition that promotes economic education. It provides trainings and materials for educators. NCEE publishes materials, develops curricula, and distributes teacher strategies and resources for classroom use.

National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE)
(303) 741-6333
NEFE and the Cooperative Extension Service created the High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) to facilitate financial education in high schools.

Virtual Reality Store Tour
Using this technology, students are taken on a virtual tour of a Reality Store® without websites but with many choices available. This tour enables students to pause at each location while making and recording their decisions.


Appendix B

Reality Store® Reflection Questions

Name:____________________________________ Date:___________________

Write about your experience at the Reality Store®. In your essay make sure you include:

  • Did your budget turn out the way you thought it would?
  • If you were to visit the Reality Store® again, would you make the same decisions? If no, what changes would you make?
  • What did you learn from the Reality Store® that will help you in the future?

Make sure that you have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion to your essay. Check for spelling and grammar.

In addition to the reflective essay, it may be enlightening to complete the “Envisioning Your Life” survey before AND after the Reality Store®.

Envision Your Life

Name: _________________________________
Anticipated Career:_____________

Let's pretend you are 25 years old. What would be your answers to these questions?


1. Are you married or single?

2. If you are married, does your spouse work? YES NO

3. How many children do you have? 1 2 3 4 5

4. What are their ages? _____________________

5. How many children are in day care?______________________

6. Do you own a home or rent (circle)?

7. Would you have a one or two bedroom apartment (circle)?


Would you have a two, three, four bedroom home (circle)?

8. Do you own a new or used car (circle)?


Do you use public transportation (us/cab) (circle)?

9. How many years did you attend college? 1, 2, 3, 4

Did you attend graduate school? YES NO

10. How many years did your spouse attend college? 1, 2, 3, 4

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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
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Volume 12, Issue 2, 2009
ISSN 1097-9778
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