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Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? Review by Brandy Brockhausen

A Bluestocking Guide: Economics
Richard J. Maybury/Jane A. Williams
Bluestocking Press
800-959-8586
P.O. Box 1014
Placerville, CA 95667-1014
http://www.bluestockingpress.com

As my kids get older, I feel it is so important to help them understand finances and economics, so they can manage their money wisely. Whatever Happened to Penny Candy is a curriculum designed to make it easier to explain these concepts to your children. It comes with a copy of the classic book written by Richard Maybury, and a study guide written by Jane A. Williams. The seventh edition of the book includes some updates to the original, including updated numbers and graphs. Both books are printed on high-quality paper with durable binding. The book itself costs $14.95 while the study guide costs $16.95. They are also available as part of a Business, Economics, and Entrepreneurship package with two additional books for $52.50.

The study guide itself lays out a suggested schedule for completing the work, and begins with several articles that help students become familiar with economic principles like supply and demand, the concept of wealth, specialization of labor, and more. The articles include a reprint of a letter written by Abraham Lincoln to his stepbrother, and articles that explain why it is important to study economics, entrepreneurship and many other topics. Each article has a suggested age range for reading, so parents can choose which articles students should read on their own, and which ones they may want to read with them.

The book itself includes 15 chapters and the study guide offers activities for each one. The study guide also has activities for each chapter, including vocabulary, short answer questions, discussion questions, and research suggestions. Parents can decide which activities to complete based on their child’s age. In addition, there are suggestions for movies to view related to the topics in the chapter, and other books to read as well. Further articles, particularly aimed at older children, are also interspersed throughout the guide. These articles help students delve deeper into the concepts in the chapter, or help make them clearer. Sometimes practice activities are given that allow students to compute things like investment value.

At the end of the study guide, there is a final exam as well as suggestions for projects students can complete to show what they learned. The study guide offers tips for how to grade all assignments given in the book and answers to the discussion questions and exam are included.

I did this economics study with my son, who is a high school sophomore. I think the study guide is very well set up for high school students. The directions and questions are very clear and he could complete most assignments on his own. I mainly read each chapter in Penny Candy ahead of him and just went over the discussion questions with him. My son appreciated the short chapters, because he isn’t a huge fan of reading, and it broke the assignments into manageable chunks. I think this study is best suited to advanced middle schoolers and high school students. Even if you did the assignments with your younger children, I think some of it would still be over their heads. For parents who like to give their kids structure, without having to sit beside them the whole time, this is a really good program. If your child is used to a more unstructured style of schooling, it may take some participation from the parent to get them going.

I would recommend this economics study for parents who are looking for a simple way to introduce economics into their curriculum. It was easy to complete, but not light on information. It offers a thorough explanation of important economic concepts without being too wordy or loaded down with a lot of extraneous exercises. It is also very easy to beef up, using the other suggested books and films in the study guide, so for homeschoolers who like to tweak things, as many of us do, Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? with the study book, A Bluestocking Guide: Economics, offers a lot of flexibility to adjust it to suit your homeschool needs. We thoroughly enjoyed completing the guide, and I feel like my son really gained an understanding of how economics works.

-Product review by Brandy Brockhausen, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2016

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