Pretty Penny Series (Random House, 2010-present)
Written and illustrated by Devon Kinch
Pre-K through Grade 6
Tax time is almost here, and soon money matters will be on the forefront of most families’ minds. With her Pretty Penny series, author/illustrator Devon Kinch has created a set of easy-to-use books to help explain money issues to younger children. The books are written so that they can stand alone, but are understood better when used in succession. In each book, the focus is on wise spending and saving habits, and how to make wise decisions with your money.
The first book, PRETTY PENNY SETS UP SHOP (2011), introduces us to Penny, her pet pig, Iggy, her Grandma Bunny, and her lofty ideas. Penny lives with her grandma and is known for having “big ideas.” In this book, Penny wants to have a birthday party for Bunny with only one small problem. She doesn’t have the money to buy anything. She thinks and thinks until she figures out a way to earn some money.
Penny is intrigued by all of the items collected in her grandma’s attic and Bunny agrees that Penny can sell them. The Small Mall is born as Penny’s next big idea. She cleans, organizes, and prices all the items and then opens shop. As a result of her sales, she now has ten dollars to buy something for Grandma Bunny. As she contemplates what to purchase, she sees cupcakes and buys enough for all the customers that helped her to earn the money. She invites them all over to surprise Bunny.
The second in the series, PRETTY PENNY CLEANS UP (2012), Penny’s friend Emma comes to Penny with a money dilemma. Emma wants to go to a concert that weekend but has already spent all of her allowance money. Penny helps Emma come up with a plan. The girls think awhile and then decide to open a pet pampering business.
Penny teaches Emma an important lesson about saving, sharing, and spending money. She helps Emma to create a place for her money for each of these categories. The girls work together to find accessories like wigs and barrettes, and then open La Perfect Pup Salon. They quickly realize that it isn’t always easy to earn money. They are able to earn thirty dollars and split it between the two of them. The girls both put some into their savings bank, some into their sharing jar, and the remainder into their spending purse. They both have earned enough for the concert ticket and more.
The third book in the series, PRETTY PENNY COMES UP SHORT (2012), follows another of Penny’s big ideas. Penny is inspired by a poster to help a local animal farm. She looks in her sharing jar and has some money in it but wants to be able to donate more. Her idea that she comes up with for this project is grander than the others: She decides to create a drive-in theater.
Grandma Bunny knows she will need lots of help with this project. She recruits two friends, Emma and Maggie, and they hold a team meeting. Each person has a job to do. Maggie will create the signs; Emma will be the usher; Penny will run the projector; and Iggy will be in charge of the snack bar. Several friends come to their drive-in theater, and Iggy is overwhelmed at that snack bar.
This book has a very big lesson for Iggy and the readers. Iggy is sticking money everywhere while trying to keep up. He puts some in the cash register, some falls on the floor, and he sticks some in his hat. He has a brilliant idea of his own. He gives Penny the money from the cash register and decides to keep the rest. He buys himself treats on the way to drop off their donation at the animal farm. Penny suspects something is up and questions Iggy. She tells him this is stealing. He volunteers at the animal farm to make up for the money that was not his to spend.
The newest installment in the series is PRETTY PENNY MAKES ENDS MEET (2013). In this book, Penny and Bunny have a dilemma during the middle of the night. They are awakened by a loud noise and search the house to find a broken water pipe in the basement causing quite a flood. Bunny is distraught because she has already spent her budgeted money that was marked for repairs.
Bunny sends Penny back to bed. Penny sleeps on the problem so that she’ll have a big idea when she wakes up. She wants to help her grandma and decides to have a jewelry sale. Penny and Iggy take their spending money and work together to buy supplies. They spend several days creating an assortment of accessories. They set up the Primo Trunk Show in the Small Mall and are able to earn sixty dollars in sales.
The lesson goes a little further by explaining the difference between money collected and profit. Penny and Iggy are able to give Grandma Bunny fifty dollars to help towards the pipe repair and she also is able to help Bunny mop up the floor.
Through this series, Penny learns that money is not always available, takes hard work to earn, and should be managed wisely in order to get what you need and want. This lesson is presented in an easy to understand format and the illustrations are bright and cheery to help hold the young readers attention. Cross-curricular connections:
Math, Social Studies, English Ideas for Classroom Use: Big Ideas
The purpose of this activity is to connect prior knowledge to the information gained in the texts of these books. For younger students, this can be completed as a group. Read the introduction portion of the Penny book of your choice, stopping when Penny is thinking about what to do. Have students predict what Penny could do in the situation in the story. What are some of the students’ ideas for coming up with some money?
Finish reading the book to the class and check their predictions. After reading the rest of the story, have students brainstorm a time when they needed to make some money like Penny or her Grandma did. What were the ways their family coped with that money need? If students are unable to think of issues on their own, a selection of choices can be offered.
Have students come up with a big idea of their own for a real or imagined need for money. Illustrate the plan for earning money and dictate—or write, depending on the age of the students—the plan for making some cash. Be sure to include any potential issues that may happen. Share these ideas with the class as time allows and encourage positive comments regarding the plans designed by each student. Help students to give creative and positive suggestions to their classmates. Budget
The purpose of this activity is to develop a working budget for the ideas discussed on the first project. For younger students this can be done in small groups, and for older students this can be done independently. After designing their “Big Idea,” have students come up with a budget for their plan. How much money will they need for the item they want to purchase? How much money will need to be spent on supplies to follow through on the idea? How much will need to be placed in the share jar, the save jar, and the spend jar? Will the project bring in enough money to cover the necessary amount wanted? What modifications might need to be made to the idea? Older students can research local costs for items needed to complete the projects.
Have students create a written plan detailing the answers to these questions, and analyzing whether or not they will have enough. Show students how to use a table to itemize this information. Students should be encouraged to use math skills such as addition, subtraction, percentages, averages, etc. Sharing and Caring
The purpose of this activity is to teach students the value of community service and giving to others in need. As a class, research some possible needs in your school or community. Design a project that can be managed by students to help meet this need. Some ideas could be to purchase books for the library, plant flowers at an approved place on campus, collect items for the humane society, or donate time/money to a charity. Help students to create a real-life big idea like Penny did and carry it out. These ideas should be very simple for younger students, and can be advanced for the upper levels.
Have a team meeting and assign roles for each member. Discuss what jobs need to be done, and create a time line. Recruit help from families as needed. Carry out your big idea, and then calculate your profit according to the way Penny showed in her books.
Document the project with pictures and create a memory board to help remind students of how this project made them feel and how successful it was. Money matters should be practiced in a correct way every day. Additional Resources and Activities: Pretty Penny
This website is Devon Kinch’s website to support her Pretty Penny series. Ms. Kinch has a blog which contains ideas for activities, reproducibles, and other fun extras to help enhance the experience of the Pretty Penny series. Games at Practical Money Skills for Life
This website provides interactive money games for varied levels of learning. The students can practice sorting and counting money with Peter Pig. Money Metropolis allows students to choose a goal to work for and play games throughout the town to help meet the goal of saving the appropriate amount of money. Other games are Financial Football, Ed’s Bank, and Road Trip to Savings, as well as several others. Links We Like from Yes Kidz Can
This website provides a list of links to several charity-based web pages to help with creating ideas for a service project. The links and divided by age levels and cover a variety of ideas. Activities for elementary, middle, and high school students are included, as well as several links to curriculum resources. Kathy Prater is a Reading Specialist who works with students with dyslexia, an Adjunct Professor at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, and a full time pre-kindergarten teacher at Starkville Academy in Starkville, Mississippi. Her passions include reading, writing, tending her flock of 15 chickens, and helping students at all levels to find motivation for lifelong reading and learning. She believes that every child can become a successful reader if given the right tools and encouragement. WANT TO WRITE FOR ENGAGE?
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© 2013 Kathy Prater. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.