Ages 12-14 | Life Skills

Many teens will take Biology or Earth Science at school - both are classes that will introduce environmental issues in depth.  Make sure to talk to your teen about current news stories and local efforts.  And be sure to support their interests if there is an earth-friendly project or idea they want to pursue.

The 3 R's At Home

  • If you recycle at home, ask your child to learn more about what can be recycled and where by visiting Recycle Spot for city-specific information.
  • Remind kids to limit their time in the shower.
  • Do a 'trash audit' at home - dump out your garbage and find out what you are throwing away that could be recycled.
  • Think about ways to reuse the water in your house - for example, extra water in your dinner glasses can be used in the dog's bowl or to water plants.  Can you collect water during your shower to use for anything?
  • Don't always turn on the lights - see if you can open the blinds/drapes and let more sunlight in the room first.

'Going Green' At School

  • Use a refillable water bottle at school and sports practices.
  • Walk or bike to school.
  • Get involved in your classroom or school's recycling efforts - ask your teacher or principal how you can help. 
  • Be careful with your school supplies so you can use them again.  If you don't need them, donate them to others who can use them.
  • Only take one napkin at school (or when eating out) - any more than that is a waste of paper.


"Heros of the Environment" by Harriett Rohmer tells the stories of 12 people across North America who have achieved amazing environmental feats!  The concept of 'think globally, act locally' is inspiring to teens who are concerned with our earth.

In the Community

  • If you can, walk or ride to sports practices. 
  • Try to talk to teammates and friends to arrange carpooling with your parents when possible.
  • Get involved in a 'clean-up day' at your school or local park - ask a parent, scout leader or teacher to help coordinate it.
  • Take gently used clothes to local resale stores or donate them to a charity.

Learning how to build things is a passion for many people.  Does your teen like to explore how things work and fit together?  If so, they'll enjoy visiting some of these fun Kansas City locations.


Learn about architecture and building houses with this online program, Architect Studio 3D - also learn about one of the world's most famous architect, Frank Llyod Wright.

Visit PBS Building Big website to learn about building bridges, tunnels and skyscrapers - try out some building challenges.

Play some building games from the Design Squad website:

At this age, many teenagers are beginning to show a passion for something - helping the environment, preventing animal creulty, feeding the hungry.  Give them the tools they need to continue to develop these skills by finding places for them to volunteer.  It's a great way to improve the world and gain valuable skills for future work.

Maybe your teen has started to earn money - babysitting, lawn mowing, pet sitting - so it's time to make sure they know how to handle money and their finances.  Most kids only learn about money at home, so give them some help by visiting some of these great Kansas City places. 

Great Fiction Books

Sometimes the best way to introduce a tough subject is through an interesting book or story.  Teens will enjoy these books that higlight other teens who are experiencing money issues.


In "Lawn Boy" by Gary Paulsen, the narrator (who calls himself 'Lawn Boy') receives a lawnmower from his grandmother for his birthday.  Needing to earn money, he turns the gift into an amazing summer business - with some ups and downs along the way.  The story includes lessons on how a free-market economy works, along with the problems that come with summer employment and running a fast-growing business.  Tons of humor throughout.

In "The Year Money Grew on Trees" by Aaron Hawkins, Jackson enters into a business agreement with his neighborhood and takes over management of a neglected apple orchard to make some good money.  Great insight into the work ethic that's needed to earn money, along with lessons about legal agreements, how some things are out of our control and the personal investment needed to reap a profit. 


A combination environmental/family business/beauty read, "My Life in Pink and Green" by Lisa Greenwald shows the value of kids being involved in a family business.  Lucy knows that her family's pharmacy isn't doing too well, so she comes up with an idea to save the business, and her family's financial future.  Age-appropriate business tips are woven throughout, along with good presentation of the dedication needed to see an idea through to the end.

Hands-on Experience:

One of the best ways to teach teens about money is making sure they have some hands-on experiences with it.  Integrate some of the following opportunities into your son or daughter's life:

  • Get them a bank account (savings first, then checking before they leave for college or to live on their own) and teach them how to make deposits, write checks and read & balance their bank statements.
  • Have them write out a budget so they understand how they use money.  Start with school expenses and construct a monthly list of these items.  Decide on the amount of money that can be spent and allow them to make choices as to what they purchase.  Will they spend it all on those new sneakers?  Or will they find a less expensive pair so that they can still purchase jeans and other clothing.  Talk to them about discounts, sales and coupons as a way to stretch their 'purchasing power'.
  • Help them find a summer job - babysitting, lawn mowing, umpire sports, etc - so they begin to understand what 'work' is, how they get paid and how economics work in our country.


Discover More:

  • The U.S. Mint has a great website for teens that talks about earning money, saving, spending, investing, understanding a paycheck - tons of great information!


Explore Money in KC

The Money Museum

One of the few in the country, Kansas City has it's own Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank.  Teens will enjoy taking a self-guided tour that includes hands-on exhibits and highlights the history of money and our economic system.  Some areas of the museum include:

  • Watch sn operating bank vault,
  • Learn what happens to old money,
  • Try to tell the difference between real money and counterfiet,
  • See if you can lift a gold bar,
  • Find out what $30 million dollars looks like up close!

Before you go, see the Visitor's page for hours and information - admission is free.

Does your teenager know how to fix a healthy lunch if you're not there?  Can they cook more than just toast?  If not, you may want to visit some of these Kansas City places to help them learn more about cooking and healthy eating.  Bon appetit!



Virtual exhibit online at Smithsonian Institute to learn about the history of food and cooking in America