Skip to main content

Strategies to “Liven Up” Financial Education Classes


Extension educators are always looking for ways to increase participation and engagement in their financial education classes. Here are a dozen interactive teaching methods to consider:

  1. Case Study Analyses– Case studies can be created using composites of client situations. They are also available in slide decks for several OneOp webinars, including this presentation about insurance.
  2. Current Events– Linking the content of classes to current financial events provides real-world context. An example: discussing investment risk tolerance and mentioning recent stock market volatility and the collapse of cryptocurrency trading platforms.
  3. Financial Calculator Debriefs– Extension educators can develop activities based on tactile cardboard calculators with sliding inserts or online calculators. Assign a task to gather information and debrief the activity afterward.
  4. Gallery Walks– Learners work in small groups on a financial education-related task, display the results of their work (e.g., newsprint pad), and walk around the room to view and discuss the work of others.
  5. Documentary Debriefs– Dozens of documentary films about personal finance topics can be accessed through streaming services and online searching. They can be assigned as “homework” with a follow-up discussion.
  6. Guest Speakers– Learners relate to powerful stories. Speakers can include professionals talking about actions taken by their clients or people who successfully addressed financial “issues” such as high debt or low savings.
  7. PowerPoint Games– Hundreds of games, styled after popular television game shows and developed by creative educators, are available for free online. They can be downloaded and used to create a template to cover military-specific content.
  8. Seven-Word Soundbite– This activity works exactly as it sounds. After teaching a personal finance topic, the group facilitator asks learners to summarize what they learned in seven words.
  9. Simulations– There are dozens of financial simulations available, some from non-profit sources, which teach financial concepts by requiring participants to make real-time spending decisions about hypothetical families.
  10. Tech Tools– Free tools can be used to engage audiences. Example: apps that poll audiences via their cell phones and report back the results. One tech tool that many K-12 teachers use includes “collaboration boards” for participants to share ideas and another includes a series of quiz questions on financial topics.
  11. WebQuests– This inquiry-oriented activity capitalizes on young adults’ ubiquitous use of smartphones and the internet. Learners are given a series of challenges to find and evaluate online data followed by a group debrief.
  12. Think-Pair-Share– This collaborative learning method begins with a question that learners consider alone for a few minutes. Then they pair up with a partner to discuss for 3-5 minutes, followed by a total group discussion.

For additional content related to working with clients on personal financial issues, visit the OneOp Personal Finance Team. Free CEUs are available for AFCs and CPFCs through our webinars.

Written By:
Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, AFC®
Edited by Kristen Jowers, MS MFT


Add Comment

Comments (0)


About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

Link copied to your clipboard.