John Dabell finds that Penny Wise makes sense of taxes and bills
All good resources for children start by looking at the world through their eyes. Good resources also need to be put in context and tricky concepts are usually best wrapped inside a story. If you add a clever writer into the mix, you are more likely to cement thinking and learning.
So meet Penny Wise, a curious Year 6 child who is trying to get her head around money. With the help of these two pupil books about taxes and bills, she does this well.
Each book starts with Penny latching on to some financial words which populate the atmosphere around her. The words being used by grown-ups and ideas picked up from the media kick-start her inquisitive gene into action.
To help her unravel the mysterious world of bills and taxes, she turns to mum and dad and Mr Bosco, her teacher. Together they explain and unpack the concepts in a non-threatening and highly comprehensible way.
These are nifty resources which will interest children. They are written in a mature style which neither alienates nor patronises. Simple, effective and amusing drawings bring the text to life. The books would make a cracking resource to support group discussion. With rich links to be cultivated within literacy and numeracy, they would be a good investment as a cross-curricular resource.
The teachers' book is important. Financial education is a delicate area to venture into and you need to tread carefully on many levels. For example, it might be easy to forget the role of parents and their differing financial status. But it addresses this point impressively through a sample letter which can be used to communicate forthcoming lessons, issues and homework activities.
There are fully-referenced notes and ideas for each of the activities, including opportunities for differentiation. There is also guidance about assessment of learning, special educational needs and additional activity ideas.
The photocopiable materials to support the activities have good content but presentation is a little lacklustre so you might want to think about jazzing these up. It's encouraging, too, that Penny Wise comes with the approval of the Personal Finance Education Group (www.pfeg.org).
John Dabell is a numeracy consultant
Penny Wise Finds out About Bills
Penny Wise Finds out About Taxes
By Andy Flatt
Pupil's books: 5 copies pound;11.50, 10 copies pound;19.50 Penny Wise
Finds out About Bills and Taxes
Teacher's book pound;10.95 Southgate Publishers