Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY

Middle Country Public Library, in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, created interactive, hands-on learning activities for children, teens, and their parents/caregivers focusing on money and mathematics. The project included portable learning stations, special activities integrated into established, ongoing programs serving preschool and school-age children, financial literacy outreach visits to elementary schools, and circulating family financial literacy math kits to reinforce learning at home. Children learned fundamental concepts such as prioritizing, exchange, and valuation. Teens received training to act as “financial math buddies” and helped facilitate learning for younger students. For parents and caregivers, the project improved their ability to model exemplary financial practices and teach their children essential personal finance skills and knowledge. Participating adults also had opportunities to learn about financial planning, credit, and investing best practices.

Key Activities: 

  • Conducted the “financial math buddies” program with participating teens. Under librarian supervision, the teen volunteers staffed financial information tables during programs for younger children and helped attendees work through activities that developed their money math skills.
  • Hosted a series of learning activities for children and their caregivers. These programs included:
  • Learning about Money Together, covering: strategies for teaching children about money; basic financial math; and an introduction to saving, spending, and sharing.
  • Moneywise Games for Families. These sessions used interactive games to model positive financial behaviors and get kids in the habit of saving.
  • Money Math Drop-in. The library’s teen “math buddies” were on hand to help younger students build their financial math skills with a series of lessons and fun activities.
  • Cars, College, and Cash, for high school students and their parents. Instructors worked with teens and parents to help them set financial goals, create and manage a budget, understand savings and checking accounts, get up to speed on credit, and master essential financial skills before leaving home and taking on financial responsibilities of their own.
  • Contracted with the Children’s Museum of Manhattan to develop the library’s hands-on financial literacy exhibits for young learners and their caregivers. The exhibits addressed foundational personal finance competencies, such as understanding how money is earned, conducting financial transactions, estimation, saving, charitable giving, and assigning value. Following display in the Middle Country Public Library branches, librarians prepared the exhibits to travel to other libraries in Suffolk and Nassau Counties.
  • Organized school visits to integrate the library’s financial literacy exhibits with the elementary grades mathematics curriculum, with an emphasis on understanding the concepts of saving, spending, and sharing.
  • Conducted a “Coins Add Up” incentive for young patrons to explore the library’s personal finance collections and activities. For every money-related activity they completed at the library, children received wooden coins, to be saved and later redeemed at the “Coins Add Up Store” at the library’s youth services desk. Big savers had the opportunity to spend 25 coins and have an item of their choice made especially for them by the library’s 3D printer.
  • Created money-related reading lists for parents.
  • Created and promoted circulating “Dollars and $ense: Numbers Add Up” kits for families. Each kit included books, games, and hands-on activities. The kits were available in English and Spanish.
  • Hosted six family financial literacy nights in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension during which participants engaged in a financial fitness program covering budgeting, keeping track of expenses, being a savvy consumer, and the elements of simple living.
  • Conducted a money math fair for children in grades K–5 and their parents.
  • Conducted presentations and exhibit tours for staff from libraries in 13 states participating in the Family Place Libraries Network Training Institute.

Looking to take your library’s financial literacy efforts to the next level? Connect with ALA’s Financial Literacy Interest Group.