Halloween is a time for costumes and candy — suffice it to say it’s not traditionally something we’d associate with financial literacy. But for teachers, using the tried-and-true Halloween tradition of Trick-or-Treat in the guise of a budgeting game can be a fun classroom activity, and also one that doubles as a financial literacy lesson.
While teachers aren’t trying to suck all of the fun out of Halloween and Trick-or-Treating, of course, it’s important to take advantage of any opportunity to introduce creative learning and classroom fun into the mix, and if the chance arises to teach budgeting skills, you need to jump on it!
Classroom Activity: Trick-or-Treat Budgeting Game
So, how exactly can teachers blend Trick-or-Treat and budgeting? With a little creativity, it’s not that hard — we are working with some finite resources (candy, which can stand in as money) that are in high demand, after all. With that in mind, there are probably a few ways that teachers can turn Trick-or-Treating into a budgeting game.
But we’ll give you one way that may be the simplest: Help students visualize the candy they get from Trick-or-Treating this year as money, and then, find ways to help them make it last. While we all know it can be fun (in theory) to eat candy until you’re sick, it may be even more fun to delay gratification and make that candy last until New Year’s Eve — if possible.
With that, perhaps you can frame eating the candy as “spending” it, and rationing it out over the coming days, weeks, or months, as “saving” it. Students’ parents may even “tax” them, too, sneaking a few Snickers bars out of their pumpkin pails. Who knows?
Halloween Budgeting and Financial Management
What does this all look like in practice? Before students hit the streets to go Trick-or-Treating (the ones that participate in Halloween-related activities, anyway), help students map out a financial plan of sorts that will assist them in budgeting their candy hauls.
For instance, let’s say a student has a goal of getting 100 pieces of candy from their night Trick-or-Treating. How can they make that last as long as possible? Perhaps they can “budget” two pieces of candy per day for themselves. That could, theoretically, stretch their candy hoard out 50 days — almost until Christmas!
Still digging into Halloween candy as the winter holidays approach may have appeal to some students. To others? Not so much. It’ll depend on each student’s tolerance for delayed gratification.
But if you really want to make things interesting? Why not offer to add to students’ candy piles if they set realistic and attainable goals with their candy, and see which ones can pull it off — similar to the famous “marshmallow test”? That is, if students are able to set a budgeting goal and reach it, perhaps a teacher can reward them with five more pieces of candy.
Something to think about!
Overall, the main goal here is to think about new and fun ways to introduce financial lessons. It can be easier when there’s candy involved.
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