Money Traps Game (Middle School Version)

Suggested Target Age: Grades 6-8

Topics Covered: consumer scams, rent-to-own, identity theft, payday advance loans and other disadvantageous financial instruments

Time Required: 45 minutes

What Will Students Learn?

  • What several common financial pitfalls or “money traps” are
  • What kinds of skills are needed to avoid those money traps, and alternatives to those money traps

State Standards Content Key:
California: None
Florida: Economics: SS.D.1.4
Indiana: Economics: 8.4.8, 8.4.10, E.6
Virginia: Civics and Economics: CE.9; Economics Education and Financial Literacy: Objectives 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 14

NOTE: This lesson does not require computers or Internet access. You will need to do it in a fairly large room if possible.

Materials Required:

Teacher Preparation:

1. Print out the Money Trap Signs, the Money Traps Description & Activity Sheets, the Shooting Target, the Word Scrambles, the Mazes, and the Candy Quiz sheets.

2. Move any chairs in the room to the sides of the room to clear out as much floor space as possible.

3. Select six separate areas of the room and mark each one as a Money Trap. Place one sign in each area.

4. Place the correct Money Trap Description & Activity Sheet face down on the floor in each of the six areas (e.g., put the Sheet for “Mini-Mart” in the Mini-Mart Money Trap area). Also:

  • In Money Trap #1, put the manila envelope with the supplies on the floor
  • Put several copies of the Word Scrambles in Money Trap #2
  • Near Money Trap #3, tape the Shooting Target onto a wall
  • Put several copies of a Maze in Money Trap #4
  • Put the three squares of paper in Money Trap #5
  • Put the Candy Quiz sheets in Money Trap #6

Lesson Plan

1. Divide the class into six teams of at least 2 persons each. Send each team to one of the six money trap areas. Tell them not to turn over the Description & Activity Sheet until you give the signal.

2. Explain to them that the six areas of the room are Money Traps. Tell them that in today’s lesson, they will be learning about some common things people do with their money that can be disadvantageous. We’re calling those things “Money Traps.”

3. Explain that in each Money Trap, they will be reading a description of the trap so that they will understand what it is and why it is a Money Trap. Then they will learn about one kind of skill that would be good to develop in order to avoid that Money Trap. Then, just for fun, they will complete an activity that is loosely related to that skill. In some Traps, each member of the team will have to complete the exercise before the team can move on to the next Trap. In other Traps, the team will work cooperatively as a whole to complete the exercise. The Description & Activity Sheets will give them the directions they need.

4. When the team has read the description and successfully completed the exercise, they should move on to the next Money Trap. (If the team currently in that Money Trap has not yet finished, the team moving into that Trap should wait patiently until they’re done. However, as teacher, you should try to see to it that the teams take no longer than about 5 minutes in each Trap.) The teams will rotate through the six Money Traps in numerical order, from the point where they started. In other words:

The team starting in Money Trap #2 will move to #3
The team starting in Money Trap #4 will move to #5
The team starting in Money Trap #6 will move to #1
Etc. etc. etc.

5. As teacher, you will probably need to “referee” various Money Traps. You will need to watch for cheating in Money Trap #6 (that the youth do not peek at the answers). You will need to judge the product created by teams when they are in Money Trap #1. (The students must be able to say what the item is and what it does or what it is for, and then you can judge whether they have created something plausible.)

6. When all the teams have completed all the Money Traps, gather the students all together for a quick de-brief session. Ask the class for a brief description of each Money Trap.