Have you ever finished a book and found that you weren’t quite ready for it to end? Maybe the book was so good that you just don’t want it to be over, or maybe the book sparked so many questions in your mind that you feel the need to satisfy your curiosity.
My family loves to take intriguing books and explore the ideas and themes to the fullest extent. This last year, my older kids and I went through the book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? It quickly became one of our favorites of HBL F, and my kids were eager to extend and try out some of the ideas they encountered in the book.
The great thing about book extensions is that they are not necessary, so don’t ever allow add-ons to be a source of stress. If you aren’t enjoying the extensions or your kids feel no desire to go farther, just trust the book to be enough and move on. Sonlight books are perfect as-is.
But if your family is like mine in that you love diving deep into thoughts and ideas, extensions are an ideal way to satisfy that extra curiosity. I’ve included a chapter recommendation for each extension, but feel free to do any of these ideas any time during or after the reading of Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?
Money, Coins, & Paper
- Explore the changes in our paper money system over the years. Study the changes we have made to make our money more secure. (Chapter 1)
- Study the two-dollar bill. What are these bills worth and why? Are they still in print? Watch this short clip to learn more. (Chapter 1)
- Study unusual coins and bills such as the Sacagawea coin and antique currency. Visit a coin collector as a field trip. (Chapter 1 & 4)
- Start your own coin collection. You can start simple and collect quarters from all 50 states, or start a collection of coins from 1920 and earlier. (Chapter 1 & 4)
- What does a trillion dollars look like? Check out this link with your kids to see. (Chapter 11)
- Try a bartering system simulation with a few friends. Each friend should bring a few items to trade. Can you trade until you have an item more value than you had when you began? (Chapter 4)
- Study the rate of inflation in the United States over the past few years. If the trend continues, what will the price of a soda be in ten years? In twenty? (Chapter 3)
- Explore the family budget. Making sure to explain that the project is all in fun and learning, appoint one child as mayor of the family for one month. Let them know that if the family is unhappy with their performance, they will not be mayor of the family next month. Give your child a monthly amount that must sustain the family. Take out all the necessary expenses first. Then, hold a “town hall” meeting to discuss how the remaining money should be spent. The child must decide how to spend the remaining money to keep their family members happy, so they can be mayor of the family again. The idea here is to feel a small amount of pressure that a politician might experience and to consider what leaders in our community face in economic-related issues. You can keep this activity simple or make it more challenging by considering taxation on your family members to pay for the wants and needs of the family. Of course, be sure they consider how would that affect their re-appointment as mayor of the family. (Chapter 8)
- Interview grandparents and great-grandparents. Ask about the price of sodas and cars when they were younger. How much did they earn per hour? When did they begin to notice inflation taking place? How did inflation affect them directly? (Chapter 4)
- Discuss wages. Hire your child to complete a job, such as baby-sitting or housekeeping, and pay them an hourly wage. Determine the minimum wage for your job and the hours required. Also determine how you will compensate overtime. Have them calculate what they will earn in one day of work? One week? What will happen if they take a 30-minute lunch break opposed to an hour long lunch break? What will they earn if they work two hours overtime? (Chapter 6)
- Discuss the national minimum wage. Based on the current federal poverty level, how many hours do minimum wage workers need to work to rise above poverty level? Consider employers. How much does a fast food employer pay a minimum wage employee for eight hours of work? If they raised their hourly pay by 6%, would the take home difference make a noticeable change in their income? How much would it cost the employer to give each employee a 6% raise? Could the employer save money by purchasing an automated kiosk instead of a paid worker? If you are able, interview a minimum wage worker and a minimum wage employer to hear varying perspectives on this issue. (Chapter 6)
- Explore what might happen to a given area when a farm that employs a few hundred workers switches over to mostly automated equipment, eliminating the need for much of the manual labor. How would that affect families and cities? (Chapter 6)
Recessions and Depressions
- Interview people who lived through The Great Depression. How did it directly affect them? What were their thoughts during that time? How did they survive? What was the hardest part about the Depression? (Chapter 7, 10, 13)
- Study the Recession of 2008. What caused it? How did it affect American families? What industry suffered the most? Why is that? Did the government take the appropriate steps to correction or would you prefer a different approach? (Chapter 13)
- Conduct a mock stock market exercise. Study the stock market pages in the newspaper. Discuss abbreviations and meanings. Give your child a set amount of pretend money and have them choose a few stocks in which they would like to invest. Have them watch the activity on their stocks over a few days/weeks. Have they earned money or lost money? What stocks are performing well? Why? (Chapter 10)
Supply and Demand
- Study the law of supply and demand. Chart gasoline prices over a period of time. Notice the times when gasoline spikes in cost are many times around high demand seasons, such as vacation season or holiday season when there is a lot of widespread travel. Coincidence? I don’t think so! (Chapter 6)
Federal Reserve and National Debt
- Write to explain your opinion on the government printing money as needed, rather than keeping money “gold-backed.” (Chapter 4)
- Compare the national debt of the United States with the debt of other countries. Look for trends in the national debt. Was there a time when the debt spiked? Did it drop? Research contributing factors. (Chapter 11)
- Research the current Index of Economic Freedom and rank countries accordingly. Discuss why countries fall where they do on the Index. (Chapter 12)
- Research velocity for five major countries. Which country has the healthiest economy based on velocity? Which has the most unhealthy economy based on velocity? According to your research, is velocity a good indicator of economic health of a country? Why or why not? (Chapter 8)
- Consider an allowance experiment. Give your child a small one-time allowance. What are their thoughts on spending the money? Do they want to run out and buy the first thing they think of? Or do they want to save at least some of it since they aren’t sure when they will get more money? How does this change when they receive a reasonable weekly allowance? What factors might make velocity go down in an economy? What factors might make velocity go up? (Chapter 8)
- Let your child do the grocery shopping for a few weeks. Give them a budget and guidelines for the project (they must get a protein for each day, etc). Let them know that they can keep up to 5% of the budget if they are wise with their purchases and have that amount left over. Introduce them to the sales circulars and discuss how waiting for a price cut can be beneficial when you are able. Assist your child in deciding when to wait to purchase an item and when to stock up. Explore how this exercise illustrates velocity in a large economy. (Chapter 8)
Feel free to pick one or two fun ideas, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, challenge yourself to try them all. For even more learning opportunities around money, finance, and economics, check out The Federal Reserve Education website.