Personal Finance | Middle School
4 Best Budget Activities for Middle School
McKenna Garrison joined the iCEV marketing team in 2022 as the Content Marketing Specialist. Originally from a small town on the Gulf of Mexico, Garrison attended Texas Tech University from which she graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations & Strategic Community and an M.A. in Mass Communication & Media Studies. Garrison looks forward to bringing more of a storytelling element to iCEV social media pages. She also hopes to connect other CTE educators from around the country to the incredible curricula and resources iCEV has to offer.
If you're teaching budgeting in middle school, it's important to engage your students with age-appropriate activities. After all, your young learners are just beginning to discover the importance of proper money management and why setting saving goals and spending limitations can help them in the long run.
But without the right resources, the importance of budgeting could be lost on your students, leaving them without the skills needed to avoid financial difficulties later. Fortunately, there are many activities to help you build your middle schoolers' budgeting skills.
In this post, you'll discover four of the best budgeting activities for middle school students:
- Budgeting Activity for Google Drive
- Budgeting Activities from Next Gen Personal Finance
- The Classroom Sparrow Monthly Budgeting Project
- Money Magic Desktop Game by BrainPOP
After reading, you'll have a better picture of the projects available so you can decide what is most appropriate for your classroom.
1. Budgeting Activity for Google Drive
The Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) marketplace is a great place for standalone activities and curriculum resources perfect for middle school. The Budgeting Activity for Google Drive from Mr. and Mrs. Social Studies is designed explicitly for learners in grades 6-9.
This interactive activity teaches the importance of setting and sticking to a monthly budget focusing on significant expenses. You can use it in many classes in the business pathway, including personal financial literacy.
The project navigates students through five different aspects of their financial future:
- Apartment or Home
- Monthly Costs
- Spending and Saving
On the whole, the activity is intended to create realistic expectations of the costs involved in living and working so learners know how sticking to a budget keeps them on track to meet their financial goals.
When you purchase this project, you'll gain access to these instructional materials:
- Teacher Guide
- Editable Monthly Budget Slideshow
- Sample Apartments and Homes
- Budget Challenge Handouts
The budgeting activity integrates seamlessly with the Google suite of applications, so teachers can easily access and edit the resources in Google Docs and present the slideshow with Google Slides.
This project costs $6.00 and includes 27 pages of material. It’s a simple and straightforward budget project that educators who already use Google applications can use quickly. Since it covers only a few major expenses, it's ideal for younger students learning about budgeting and financial literacy for the first time.
2. Budgeting Activities from Next Gen Personal Finance
Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) is a nonprofit that creates free educational resources for business teachers and their students. These resources include games, interactive activities, case studies, and projects specifically designed to promote financial literacy.
On the NGPF site, you will find over 30 budget activities for middle school students. Some of these activities include:
- Build Your Budget
- The Average American Budget
- What is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?
- Inflation, Spending, and Wages
- Needs vs. Wants
- Living Paycheck to Paycheck
- Plan a Spring Break Trip
- The Real Relationship Test: Reconcile Your Finances
- Making it in the Gig Economy
- The Cost of Car Ownership
- Budgeting with Roommates
Each subject covered by NGPF concerns situations students are likely to face in the coming years. This context makes for a more relevant budget project for middle school students and helps learners plan for future goals.
Plus, every project comes complete with lesson plans and student instructions provided through Google Docs. This makes NGPF a great option for teachers who need resources to use right away.
Overall, NGPF offers quality, free budgeting activities that you can easily incorporate into an existing middle school business course.
3. The Classroom Sparrow Monthly Budgeting Project
The Classroom Sparrow is another well-regarded Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) seller you can turn to for budget activities for middle school students. This provider offers hundreds of projects in a variety of subject areas, including business education.
The Personal Finance, Budgeting, and Planning Monthly Project allows students to plan a real-life monthly budget by applying sound personal finance principles.
The project contains 35 pages of teacher and student resources, including:
- Teacher instruction page
- Initial guess sheet
- Project outline
- Supplementary handouts
- Optional activities
- Editable templates
- Editable rubrics
Over the course of the project, learners develop core money management knowledge that applies directly to their own wants and needs.
For a paid resource, this project is both thorough and organized well. Instructors can pay $9.75 for this project or $22.99 for The Classroom Sparrow’s Real-World Budgeting & Finance bundle.
Compared to other resources on this list, this project is better for older middle school students who may already have some entry-level exposure to financial literacy. However, the materials offered are of high quality, and this project could fit well in your lesson plans if you're looking for a larger, more customizable budget activity.
4. Money Magic Desktop Game
BrainPOP is an educational website that utilizes a video platform, animated characters, and gamification for educators like you to use as a tool to help your students grasp fundamental concepts.
Money Magic tasks young learners with managing a budget, growing profits, and reaching savings goals to make a large purchase and win the game. Designed for grades 6-8, students not only learn the fundamentals of personal financial literacy but have fun while doing so.
BrainPOP also includes a multitude of resources, including:
- Personal Finance Lesson Plan
- How Do I Budget Lesson Guide
- A Salaray-Based Budget Plan Activity
- Money Magic Reflection Worksheet
The Money Magic game and resources listed above are completely free for you to implement in your classroom.
However, BrainPOP does have the following additional resources that are available through a subscription:
- Budgeting videos complete with animated characters
- Related reading
- Personal Finance worksheets
A teacher subscription to BrainPOP for grades 3-12 currently costs $330 for a 12-month subscription. There are additional options for school-wide and district-wide subscriptions, but you will need to request a custom quote.
Teach Budgeting as Part of a Financial Literacy and Career Exploration Course
When you're searching for a budget project for middle school students, it's essential to choose one that is age-appropriate and introduces learners to the fundamentals of good personal finance. Picking suitable activities now will help students have a solid grasp of budget principles so they can start planning for future success.
Depending on the needs of your classroom, the amount of time you have to cover setting and maintaining a budget, and the types of projects that will fit well with your curriculum, any one of the activities in this article could be a great choice.
But just covering budgeting often isn't enough to ensure your students have a comprehensive picture of financial literacy to prepare them for successful careers.
This is why iCEV covers budgeting and financial literacy as part of its Middle School Digital Literacy and Career Exploration curriculum. With iCEV, your students learn sound financial principles as they discover career pathways and opportunities.
To learn more about iCEV and if it could be the right fit for your students, visit the curriculum page: