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What began as an ordinary day watching kids play video games quickly turned into a revolutionary way for busy families to coordinate their lives and teach important money skills and values.

Our Founder, Ken Damato, was watching two of his boys play a popular online game called Webkinz when he noticed that they were using two different styles of managing their game money. One of his boys was saving in order to buy the big items in the game and the other child was spending the game money as fast as he could get it. It was this observation that started Ken’s quest to use gaming to teach children key skills and values related to money.

However once we began to talk to a large number of families all across the country we found that they were also interested in the other values that underlie good financial management — planning, doing what you say you will do, sticking to it, and understanding the responsibility of your actions. As we talked about these values with parents we discovered that many families want to teach these topics through the “job” of being a family. This led us to create a set of online applications that were connected together including a family calendar, a chores tracker, and an allowance and rewards tool.

DoughMain has brought two unique but integrated services to the busy families — a way to organize your family and teach core values, along with three age-relevant game sites including Sand Dollar City where we teach financial education.

We hope you like DoughMain and Sand Dollar City. Please give us any feedback that you have — we are here to meet the needs of your family.

DoughMain — created for real parents. For real kids. For real results.

What is Sand Dollar City?

Sand Dollar City is a virtual world designed to teach important financial lessons to children eight and older, combining an immersive underwater adventure with real-world financial concepts including earning, spending, saving, budgeting, banking, smart shopping, credit cards, credit scores, needs and wants, and more. With a curriculum designed by an expert team of real-world teachers and aligned with the national Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy guidelines, Sand Dollar City promotes financial education to children, teaching important concepts through exploration, quests, and challenges.

DoughMain Game Content Correlation to National Financial Literacy Standards

The educational games powered by DoughMain including Sand Dollar City directly correlate to the National Standards in K–12 Personal Finance Education, created and maintained by the Jump$tart Coalition® for Personal Financial Literacy, which delineate the personal finance knowledge and skills that K–12 students should possess. (Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, 2007, p. 1)

“Jump$tart is a national coalition of organizations dedicated to improving the financial literacy of pre-kindergarten through college-age youth by providing advocacy, research, standards and educational resources. Jump$tart strives to prepare youth for life-long successful financial decision-making.”  (Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, 2007)

The National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education serve as an educational model. This framework of ideal personal finance curriculum is available for organizations’ use in promoting sound financial knowledge and skills by implementing it as they see fit.

Standards

These financial standards are separated into the following six major categories or buckets of personal finance:

Expectations

The standard’s statements of expectation describe how students can apply knowledge to everyday financial decisions and actions at three points in their consumer development—at grades 4, 8, and 12. The expectations reflect a progression of student learning in which increasing complexity builds on earlier knowledge. Educators will take into account that students learn at different rates because of a variety of learning styles, interests, and experiences outside the classroom. (Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, 2007, p.4-5)

Since the benchmarks begin with 4th grade, the games and activities for 5 – 7 year olds are designed to meet State math curriculum standards correlated with National financial standards. These beginning activities provide vital basic financial skills for the older age groups to build upon.

Educational Digital Game Play

Digital games play an important role in daily life, especially to the younger generation described as “digital natives”. This generation is born in a digitally rich environment, where digital devices and games are part of their everyday lives. According to Judy Willis, MD, “The popularity of video games is not the enemy of education, but rather a model for best teaching strategies. Games insert players at their achievable challenge level and reward player effort and practice with acknowledgement of incremental goal progress, not just final product.” “. . . students need to use what they learn in authentic ways that allow them to recognize their progress as clearly as they see it when playing video games.” (Willis, 2011)

Edutainment is defined as the act of learning through a medium that both educates and entertains using any of the various media, such as computer software, television programs, games, books, etc. Early examples of edutainment would be Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

DoughMain Financial Games

DoughMain teachers and game developers collaborated to design and offer three levels of educational game play for children. Games/activities address each age group by incorporating appropriate levels of Jump$tart financial concepts and standards to strengthen children’s money knowledge and skills in an entertaining way. These games are a true example of Edutainment.

Game Groupings

The financial games/activities on the site are targeted toward three age groups:

The Fun Vault:

5 years old and up

The Fun Vault features Flash games for children ages 5 and up. These games teach the money concepts of coin and bill recognition, counting and making change, wants vs. needs, and relative cost.

Sand Dollar City:

8-12 year olds

Sand Dollar City is a virtual underwater world where your children have the ability to play and interact with their friends. The story starts with the inheritance of the family's candy store. Players participate in quests to discover the mysteries of Sand Dollar City while paying off debt to turn the candy store business around. In the process they will be exposed to seven categories of financial education material.

I Rule Money:

13-18 year olds

I Rule Money is a web site for teenagers where experts answer their questions about money and money management as they begin to approach their own financial independence. Interactive game quests are in development for future edutainment.

Activity Financial Responsibility and Decision Making Income and Careers Planning and Money Management Credit and Debt Risk Management and Insurance Saving and Investing
Earn money selling candy at candy shop
Earn money reselling items
Earn money selling items discovered in treasure hunts
Create and execute Savings Plan
Earn interest by placing money in savings account
Research credit cards
Acquire credit card
Purchase items with credit
Pay credit bills
Contribute to retirement fund
Comparison shopping for items
Investigate different sources of income
Research savings accounts
Choose different payment methods
Earn a credit score
Balance risk-reward (dives)
Explore credit card fees
Budget for big ticket items
Explore need to plan for retirement
Understanding needs and wants
Donate to charitable organization

References

Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (2007). Retrieved June 29, 2011, from http://www.jumpstart.org

Willis, J. A Neurologist Makes a Case for the Video Game Model as a Learning Tool. Retrieved July 6, 2011, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/video-games-learning-student-engagement-judy-willis