Curriculum Details: Financial Literacy


The Bell Regional Gifted Center recognizes the importance of educating students in financial literacy. To this end, we are pleased to welcome the addition of the Climb to Safety program to our curriculum. During the 2016-2017 school year, students in first, second, and third grades will participate in this program.




Climb to Safety Teaching financial literacy one step at a time


Michelle Weindruch Executive Director michelle@climbtosafety.org 847.767.3132


Program Overview

"Early financial education is important for individual well-being and also the economic health of the United States."

-Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke

Do parents talk to students about money or savings?

Does the school instruct students about the importance of savings and investments?


Imagine this:

In 1st grade, a financial advisor comes in weekly to teach students the foundations of this important topic.

It gets better:

The class receives an initial donation invested in a 529 College Savings Account.

What happens next?

The money and curriculum follow the students to the next grade.

Students start monitoring and analyzing their class investment.

Students gain knowledge about the global economy and start making informed decisions on their class College Account.

What happens in 8th grade?

The investment is divided into individual 529 accounts benefiting each student.

What has the student gained?

Financial education that will help put their life goals within reach.


Frequently Asked Questions

In what grade does the program begin and end?

The program will begin in 1st grade and follow the students through 8th grade.

How often is the instruction?

The lessons will be offered every other week starting for a half hour in 1st grade and increasing to an hour as the students get older.

How does instruction align with the school curriculum?

The lessons all use standards in the Common Core as well as Illinois State Goal 15.

How does the class get the initial investment?

The initial investment will be funded by Climb to Safety through private and corporate donors.

What happens to the investment at the end of 8th grade?

All graduating students will receive a portion from the class 529 account. Their funds will be transferred into a 529 account with their guardian as the owner and the student as the beneficiary.

What happens if a student leaves before 8th grade?

The student must graduate with the 8th grade class to receive their share of the money.

What if a student enters the program midway through?

The student will receive a prorated portion of the final amount for their 529 account.

What is the school’s responsibility?

The school should help promote and believe in the importance of Financial Literacy.

What is the teacher’s responsibility?

The teacher should have the students ready to learn when the instructor arrives.

Who is the instructor?

Michelle Weindruch, Executive Director, Illinois State Certified Teacher will provide classroom instruction.




1st grade learning goals and outcomes:

Students will be able to distinguish between needs and wants.

Students will be able to articulate their reasoning for a want.

Students will be able to apply their knowledge to make a choice.

Students will be able to recognize the need for a good or service.

Students will be able to identify the value of a good or service.

Students will be able to compare and contrast various services.

Students will be able to articulate the difference between a consumer and a producer.

Students will be able to analyze options to make a choice.


Outcomes at the completion of the program – 8th grade:

Students will be able to apply their financial knowledge to real world situations.

Students will be able to explain the purpose of investing money.

Students will be able to compare and contrast investment options.

Students will be able to develop a classroom investment.

Students will be able to summarize inflation and how it relates to investing.

Students will be able to construct a budget.

Students will be able to create long term financial plans and goals.

Students will be able to recognize that the United States is part of a world economy.



Financial Literacy Sections

The program is divided into six sections which represent different broad topics starting with Everyday Choices and culminating in The World Market. Each section includes main topics, subtopics, vocabulary and assessments.

Climb to Safety is not designed as a one size fits all learning process. The beginning of each year will include a pre-assessment to gauge student’s prior knowledge. Lessons will then be tailored to the needs of the classroom.

In addition to the Financial Literacy Sections, each year the students will play a larger role in the classroom 529 College account. This will provide an additional level of economic understanding.

The Financial Literacy Sections listed provide the basis for instruction. Section content as well as timing will be personalized for each group of students. 


Section 1: Everyday Choices

-Needs and Wants (Define Need) (Plant, Animal, Human Needs) (Indulgences) (Basic Human Needs)

-Goods and Services (Satisfying Wants and Needs) (Tangible) (Jobs) (Products versus Actions)

-Consumers and Producers (Using Goods and Services) (Providing) (Skills)

-Choice (Do I need this? or Do I want this?) (Gain versus Loss) (Scarcity)

Section 2: Resources

-Productive Resources (Materials) (Tools) (Define Natural, Human and Capital Resources)

-Natural Resources (Gifts of Nature) (Scarcity) (Raw Materials)

-Human Resources (People) (Labor) (Quality and Effort)

-Capital Resources (Special Goods) (School Building)

Section 3: Monetary Responsibility

-Production (Combining Resources) (Creating Goods)

-Cost (Price) (Opportunity Cost) (Decision Making)

-Benefit (Gain) (Trade-Offs) (Effort)

-Exchange (Trading with Money) (Bartering) (Marketplace)

Section 4: Citizen Opportunities

-Jobs (Employers) (Employees) (Interests) (Skills)

-Government (Taxes) (Economic Systems) (Public Goods) (Effects of using resources)

- Income (Cost) (Profit) (Specialization)

Section 5: Money Management

-Budgeting (Earning, Saving, Spending) (Charity) (Setting Goals) (Choices)

-Entrepreneurship (Creating, Implementing) (Independent Ideas) (Supply, Demand)

-Long Term Planning (Goal Oriented) (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Results-oriented, Time-driven)

Section 6: World Market

-Supply and Demand (Imports and Exports) (Specialty Items)

-Investing (Companies) (Stocks) (Bonds) (Interest) (Dividends) (Compounding) (Timing)

-Inflation (Consumer Price Index) (Spending)



Parent Education

“Dollars and Cents should get the same attention as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at home.”

Ernie Almonte, CPA, vice chair of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) National CPA Financial Literacy Commission

According to Ken Tysiac’s article, Many Parents failing to educate children about money, “Just 13% of parents surveyed talk daily with their children about financial matters.”1

1 Tysiac, Ken “Many Parents failing to educate children about money.” Journal of Accountancy 9 August 2012. http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/News/20126206-financial-planning.htm .

As an Educator and Investment Advisor, I believe that education starts in the home, and for optimal learning, should reinforce what is taught at school. I propose we also educate the parents through monthly seminars.

An initial assessment can identify topics that would be most beneficial to each specific group of parents. Here is a sample of potential topics:

1. How do I set up and follow a budget?

2. What can I do to increase my savings?

3. What is a College 529 Saving Account?

4. What is a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA?

5. How does my 401k work?

6. How do I know what funds to invest in with my 401k at work?