Learn About the Stock Market: lessons, games and more

Learn About the Stock Market: Lessons, Games, and More

Are you baffled by the stock ticker numbers you see on the news or on financial websites? Don't worry if you are; no one is born understanding the stock market. But with a few key pieces of information, you can enter the investing world with confidence.

The first stock market was started almost by accident back in the 17th century. The Dutch East India Company sailed lengthy voyages all over the world to buy spices, silk, coffee, and other foreign goods and bring them back to Europe. They were making money, but the voyages were getting more expensive all the time. Eventually, they decided to offer well-to-do citizens a chance to invest in these voyages. In return for some up-front cash, which the company would use to buy ships, pay sailors, and so on, each investor would get a share of the profits from that voyage. The first stock market was set up to handle these transactions.

Fast-forward a few hundred years and we can see stock markets all over the world. Most transactions now use computers instead of paper shares. The stock market is worth $50 trillion in the United States alone, but despite its size, the modern market works much like the first one did. Investors can purchase shares (or stock) in a company, and the company uses the money from that purchase to pay workers, buy equipment, or pay down debt. In return, the investor gets a percentage of the company's earnings for as long as they own the stock. If the company does well, the stock price goes up and the investor's stock is worth more. If the company does poorly, the opposite happens. That's why it's important for investors to be well-informed about where they put their money.

So why should we care about the stock market? Stock investing isn't just for day traders and hedge fund managers. For many of us, saving money for retirement is an important financial goal. The money we save for our later years is usually invested in a mutual fund, which is a collection of stocks. Whether you invest in individual stocks and bonds or put your money in a set-it-and-forget-it mutual fund, understanding the stock market is important. Knowing how to make your money work for you helps you to make good decisions at key points in your life. You'll also be able to tell when you have saved enough for retirement.

  • An Introduction to the Stock Market: This site helps teach basic stock market terminology, and it also touches on why the stock market works the way it does and a few strategies for investing.
  • Investing in the Stock Market: This site walks you through some financial definitions and also covers some helpful basic math. Students can learn how to read a stock report, how to calculate stock prices, and how to track stock price changes.
  • The Most Valuable Companies of All Time: How does the Dutch East India Company stack up against modern corporate heavyweights? See this comparison to learn more.
  • History of the Stock Market: Want to learn more about how stock markets came to be? Check out this brief history, which gets the major points across and teaches some stock market concepts along the way.
  • The Next Big Thing: This worksheet guides students through reading stock market quotes over multiple days. This can really help you to understand a stock's performance.
  • Stock Market Glossary: If stock market lingo doesn't make sense to you, check out this site. It covers the basics to get you started.
  • Bonds vs. Stocks: Stocks and bonds go hand in hand, but they're quite different. This site will help you learn the differences between them and the advantages of each.
  • Stock Analysis Checklist: This site gives you everything you need to evaluate a stock plus links to where you can do additional research. Follow this checklist and you'll know whether that stock you're eyeing is a winner or a loser.
  • NYSE Made Easy: This lesson plan simplifies the concepts behind the New York Stock Exchange. It features individual and group activities as well as a learning assessment game.
  • Portfolio Report Card: Enter any stock ticker symbol and get a report card for that company. It's always best to do research for yourself, but this is a great way to see a snapshot of a stock's outlook.
  • Mutual Fund Investing for Beginners: For many investors, mutual funds are their primary exposure to the stock market. Learn all about what makes mutual funds tick in this article.
  • Stock Market Lesson Plan: In this mock stock market activity, students select their stocks and then track them for 30 days to see whose stock price increases the most. It's a fun and competitive way to learn about stock price changes.
  • Dividend-Paying Stocks: This lesson plan offers reading, activities, and an assessment to gauge how much you've learned. It covers what dividend-paying stocks are, how to calculate dividend yield, and how to compare dividends to other income investments.
  • Stock Investing 101: This free online textbook from the Young Investors Society explains how to choose stocks and how to judge a company's performance. It features stock charts, financial history lessons, and thought-provoking activities.
  • How the Market Works: With in-depth explanations, activities, and definitions, this lesson plan has a wealth of information. It also guides teachers and students through playing stock market simulation games.
  • Stock Market Bubbles and Crashes: This fun group activity illustrates some of the most turbulent events in the market. How do these stock market bubbles and crashes affect other markets, such as real estate?
  • Price to Earnings Ratio Worksheet: Price to earnings ratio is one of the many ways we can judge a company's performance. This worksheet walks you through how to calculate this important economic indicator.
  • What's Up With the Stock Market? Ideal for grades 6-8, this collection of activities covers important vocabulary words and asks students to think critically. It also includes tips for working these stock market lessons into other subjects, like history and language arts.
  • Accumulating Wealth, Chapter 1: Overview of Investing: This chapter guides high school students through concepts like inflation, investment risks, and diversification. Real-world examples and activities keep the lessons relevant.
  • The Basics of the Stock Market: This video introduces key stock market concepts, dispels some myths about investing, and gives real-world advice on how to get started.
  • Investing in Stocks for Beginners: Using Facebook as an example, this video walks viewers through what happens when stock prices fluctuate. Colorful graphics and lively editing keep it interesting.
  • Investing Basics: Compound Interest: Compound interest is key to building wealth. This video explains how to make this powerful concept work for you.
  • The Stock Market Game: In this online game, students get a virtual wallet and can enter the world of investing with no risk. The game is fun and educational at the same time.
  • Playing an Investment Game: Students can play this fun game to learn more about the stock market. The variety of different scenarios and interactive nature of the game keep it interesting.
  • Build Your Stax: In this game, players simulate 20 years of financial activity. There are multiple investment types to choose from as you compete in a group or against a computer player.
  • Teaching Kids Stocks: These activities will help younger students understand some key stock market concepts, including financial risk, tracking stock prices, and how to save for a rainy day.
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