Life Skills Curriculum for Elementary Students

There was a time when children were taught life skills like sewing and cooking from a young age because they needed to know them. Today these skills are not taught as prominently in the home but are still important. One of the best ways to bring this back is to introduce life skills curriculum to elementary students. 

Time changes everything; it always has and it always will. One aspect of life that has changed drastically with the introduction of technology and conveniences like “GrubHub” or “Hello Fresh” is the idea of learning what some might consider “basic skills” in the home.

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I know what some of you may be thinking, “Where am I going to fit that in?” Teachers are swamped with standards to teach to prepare for state tests and more. The good news is you can teach life skills from basic responsibility to home economics in your everyday classes. Follow the guide below to implement life skills curriculum into your classroom. 

Teaching Money Management 

One of the best things we can instill in elementary students is the why money matters. According to CNBC the average American is 38,000 dollars in debt not including home mortgages. To help bring this number down, we can teach our elementary students an important life skill: money management. 

A Price to Pay

A fun way to introduce money management into your classroom is to give your students an “allowance” each week. This allowance can be used to use the restroom, get a drink, have an extra five minutes at a favorite station, or anything you want it to be.

When a student needs to use the bathroom or get a drink outside of a designated time, they must “pay” for it. Whatever money they have left at the end of the week they can put into their “savings account.” 

There are several things you can allow students to do with a savings account. Once a month or at the end of each quarter you can allow them to buy prizes, homework passes, or coupons for extra time at a desired location. With this technique, students experience what it feels like to be asked for money which is a teachable moment for you. 


Another way to teach money management is to give students an allowance each week. Instead of using a behavior chart you can give them a “fine” for inappropriate behavior. This will hopefully help students behave so they can save their “money.” This money can again be used for prized, homework passes, or anything else you can think of. 

This technique can also be used along with the “A Price to Pay” idea. These ideas are simple to implement in your classroom and can be fun for students. 

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Teaching Responsibility 

Another skill that tends to be lacking our world is responsibility. This can be for a student’s behavior or for possessions. Teaching a sense of responsibility can be tricky. However, it has huge rewards and is a vital life skill for students to have. 

It’s Your Turn 

One way to teach responsibility is to assign “jobs” for different students each week. These jobs don’t need to be difficult or overly stressful, they can be very simple. For example, when I was in elementary school we always had a student who was responsible for the following: 

  • Leading the line (a favorite for sure) 
  • Changing the date on the board 
  • Helping with clean up after a certain class/activity 
  • Changing what the weather is outside 
  • Getting the lunch count 
  • Passing out snacks 
  • Blowing the recess whistle 

These are just a few ideas; you can really come up with as many or as few jobs as you would like. Then you put students on a rotation. It would be best if students had a week on and week off.

Each student is responsible for doing their task every day. If they succeed, they can get “paid” with stickers. They can save up and trade in for something cool. 

Teaching students that they need to be responsible, especially when it comes to a job, is a great life skill even for elementary students. 

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Teaching Home Skills

While money management and basic responsibility is very important, there are some home skills that can be fun to teach in your classroom as well. 

Button Up

One life skill that everyone should know how to do is sew on a button. You can teach students how to follow a pattern when you teach them how to sew a button on to a shirt or you can make a button collage as a piece of art to have in your classroom. 

Another way to incorporate sewing on a button in your classroom besides patterns is by “buttoning up” a unit. You can have students make a little 3D folder that has to include something they can unbutton to show a big idea they learned.

For example, the theme in a book or the final solution to a math problem. This can become collaborative work and students can create puzzles for their fellow classmates. 

A Taste of Science

While knowing how to sew might be a dying art, a bigger art is dying every day: the ability to cook. With conveniences like “Grub Hub,” “Uber Eats,” and “Hello Fresh,” the art of going to the grocery store, buying ingredients, and cooking is a dying. You can make science a little more fun, and tasty, by adding some cooking to your class.

You can have students make cookies with different ingredients, apple sauce instead of oil or baking powder instead of soda, and having them observe the mixing, cooking, and final product. Students can take notes on what the batter looked like, how it spread out and rose, and finally how it tastes. 

These science experiments can be done once a month and if you utilize your parents, you can have each student be responsible for bringing an inexpensive ingredient. 

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Teaching life skills is so important at every age level. Introducing these ideas in elementary school will help instill important life skills at an early age which will hopefully be used throughout their life. Try these fun ideas in your room and watch your students grow in more ways than one. 

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