Reading this book with my class was a wonderful opportunity to look at choices that Benny made. He was generous with his money, spending it all on others and none of it for himself. He was thoughtful to ask his family members what ideas they may have for ways to spend the money. He was kind when speaking with community members as he asked if they might help him to find something his family members would like. We discussed how it is enjoyable to give to others. The children offered what they would like to give to others if they had money to spend without being prompted to discuss this.
The story itself has many wonderful components all wrapped together. The story is predictable with a rhyme scheme. Also, after each penny is spent, the children have an opportunity to revisit how many pennies he has left. When the story is finished, each family member has a gift and the final page can be used for a recalling activity in which you can integrate ordinal numbers. You can focus on what Benny bought first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. You can ask what he bought last and first.
I set up centers in my room after reading this story. In one, my students enjoyed re-enacting this story. They had the opportunity to take turns being Benny as well as the shopkeepers Benny visited. They used real pennies to purchase items. They then took the item they bought and drew a picture of what they bought. If they were able to, they labeled the picture. Some students were able to write a sentence about what they chose to purchase and who they would like to give it to.
At another center, students used their real pennies to pencil rub over them randomly around a piece of paper. I then asked them to choose groups of pennies and circle them. They then labeled the groups according to how much money was in each circle. They seemed to enjoy having control over choosing how many pennies would be in each of the groups.
The final center had them complete a picture page that had the following prompt on it:
If I had five pennies I would buy____________for____________________.
These pages will be finished tomorrow and put together for a classbook called, "Bear's Pennies".