Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Making Cents

Book Cover

The book, Making Cents, written by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson and illustrated by Bob McMahon, gives young readers ideas about some of the items they can purchase with a penny going all the way up to a one hundrend dollar bill. 

The children in the book want to make a clubhouse.  They will need to save money and learn what they can purchase with every amount.  The book starts off explaing that 1 penny can buy a perfect nail.  The amount adds up to a $100 dollar bill; which the children have the choice to purchase 10,000 nails or plywood sheets, 2 x 4′s, a hammer and a saw.  Each page starts off by adding the previous coin or bill by a certain number to make up the next demonation.  An example would be: 

“Soon we’ll have two tens, and they’ll add up to a…Twenty-dollar bill! Andrew Jackson’s on the front and that’s that White House on the back. It’s worth two thousand cents, but it’s easier to carry. That twenty-dollar bill can buy..”

The children have have doing things throughout the book to earn money.  They have a lemonade stand, sell items at a yard sale, wash windows & deliver the newspaper to name a few.  The final page shows all of the children playing on the clubhouse that was built with the money that they had worked so hard for. 

Curriculum Connections

Making Cents would be an excellent book to use as part of an economics lesson related to people need to have money in order to purchase goods.  The book is realistic with what each amount of money can actually purchase in today’s economy.  It is simple enough to be read to 1st graders all the way up to 3rd grade.  After reading the story, students could think about what they would build if they had a certain amount of money and then journal about it. 

In Virgina, Making Cents can be used in the social studies SOLs 1.9, 2.8 & 3.9.  The SOLs explain that people can save money for future purchases of good and services.  As well as economic costs when making a purchase.

Additional Resources

  • Here a link that teachers can use for PowerPoint presentations for their students.  The presentations are free and range from good & services to wants & needs.
  • The Council for Economic Education has listed several tools that teachers can purchase to help aid in the teaching of economics.  The tools that are available for purchase can also be used to tie the lesson in with language arts.
  • Teachers can use the interactive worksheets from the Goods & Services Lesson as a support to the economic content. A student can take the on-line worksheet more than once; and each time different questions will be asked.  This would be a great way for students to practice the economic knowledge they just learned.

Book: Making Cents
Author: Elizabeth Keller Robinson
Illustrator: Bob McMahon
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 30
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: 13: 978-1-58246-214-1