About the Contest

Mastering Money Basics is an annual competition designed to encourage students to use their reading, writing and artistic skills while learning about money, credit and finances. Each year, the directors of ACCESS establish a theme for students to write about. Our goal is to stimulate conversations between the class, the participants, the project coordinator and/or teacher.

The 2015-2016 contest theme is "Why are needs more important than wants in managing money?"

Click for Entry Form & Rules for Contest

Under the guidance of a project coordinator, children work either individually or in teams to write and illustrate their own story. The creative process of working in teams helps provide a natural environment to practice editing, teamwork and the communication skills necessary for future success. All students involved get a sense of pride and accomplishment from submitting their story.

Three prize winning stories and five honorable mentions will be selected by our Board of Directors. The stories are evaluated on topic, content, compliance, artwork and educational value.

To get started, follow these steps to create interest and enthusiasm for the contest:

Introduce the Project
*     Explain the project to your students.
*     Discuss the topic and suggested ideas. Encourage creative ideas surrounding the topic.
*     Incorporate it as an activity to a unit on authors/illustrators or as part of a unit on teaching the elements of story writing.

Focus on Stories
*     Read books by a variety of authors and illustrators.
*     Explain or discuss stories that have a purpose, or teach a lesson, like Aesop's Fables.
*     Compare and contrast their different styles.
*     Introduce elements of story writing (plot, theme, characters).
*     Discuss different ways of illustrating a story.

Forming Teams
*     You may choose to invovle the whole class or break into smaller groups.
*     You may select which students are in each group or allow them to choose.
*     For the contest, students can work in groups of up to four.
*     Consider coordinating with other classes or teachers within your school.

Story Elements  – Use questions to get your students thinking about the elements of their story.
Who?         Who are the main characters in the story? Discuss possible characters and how to build them.
What?        What is going to happen in the story? What is the problem or purpose of the story? Why is this important?
Where?      In what setting does the story take place? At home, in a store, outside, or at school?
When?       When does the story take place? Present day, the future, the past, or a combination?
Why?         Why would the character do what he did? Was it important, needed, helpful or just for fun?
How?         How is the story built, is it a solution to a problem? Is it a conflict that is resolved?

Stories can be factual accounts from the student's life. They may also be fictional creations. We are hoping students use their imaginations and provide a truly entertaining yet educational story. The contest is open to all students grades K-5. The target reader for the stories will be children ages 8-9 (third grade).

Click for Entry Form & Rules on Mastering Money Basics Contest



The contest is open to students in grades K-5 in Nebraska. Students must develop their stories under teacher supervision to ensure rules are adhered to. Students may work in teams of up to four. The project coordinator and/or teacher should only provide constructive criticism and general guidance. The project coordinator assures that the entry follows the rules below.

Click for Mastering Money Basics Contest Entry Form & Rules



From the time of submission, entries become the property of ACCESS and will not be returned. Each entry must be accompanied by an Entry Form. The entry form may be photocopied. The signatures of the teacher and parent of the student must be on the entry form. Entrants will receive a letter of acknowledgment and a certificate of participation.


Entries must be postmarked by February 28.

Winners will be announced on April 1st.

Selection Criteria:

Contest entries will be judged on originality, content, overall appeal to children, educational value, quality of artwork and compatibility of illustration and text. Winners will be selected at the sole discretion and judgment of ACCESS. All prize decisions are final.


* Use ONLY one side of page, for either text or illustrations.
* Both text and artwork must be the sole creation of the students.
* Include the completed Entry Form.
* Each entry must be submitted separately.
* Remember that the entry should be the students' work only. Your role is to offer guidance and provide instruction and examples of story elements, such as plot, theme, character development, and setting.

Please check out the "About the Contest" tab for more suggestions.


Grand prize winner: $1,000.00 awarded to the school of the winning story.

2nd place prize: $750.00 awarded to the school of the 2nd place story.

3rd place prize: $500.00 awarded to the school of the 3rd place story.


5 Honorable Mentions: $150 awarded to the schools.

Winning entries will receive a medallion to commemorate their achievement.

All winners and honorable mentions will receive an award certificate.

Winners will be announced on April 1st.

Winner's Picture

2013 Grand-Prize Winner: Buying Cattle

Written and illustrated by fourth and fifth grade students from Hampton Public School in Hampton, NE

“Buying Cattle” details all the key elements in ultimately creating a profitable business endeavor within the cattle industry. From calf selection to selling the calf; their story covers all facets, costs and reasons for their expenditures; culminating into a successful venture in rural Nebraska.

Winner's Picture

2013 2nd Place Winner: Cookie and Ca$h

Written and illustrated by fifth grade student from  Bess Streeter Aldrich Elementary School, Omaha, Nebraska

This heartwarming story was about winning and losing; and the challenges we all face during tough times of financial needs.

Winner's Picture

2013 3rd Place Winner: Roth IRAs

Written and illustrated by fourth and fifth grade students from Hampton Public School in Hampton, NE

This well researched story is beautifully illustrated and discusses the many benefits of investing money in a Roth IRA for your retirement.

Winner's Picture

2012 Grand-Prize Winner: Money Savers

Written and illustrated by fourth and fifth grade students from Hampton Public School in Hampton, NE

Money Savers is a warmhearted story about the simple things we can do to help our families save money during hard economic times while planning for the future

Winner's Picture

2012 2nd Place Winner: Lizzy Buys a Gift

Written and illustrated by second grade students from Behrens-Cornerstone Academy in Omaha, NE

Join Lizzie in this humorous little story about getting a Birthday gift for her little sister Hannah. This short story reviews the concepts, challenges and rewards of earning money.

Winner's Picture

2012 3rd Place Winner: How Do ATMs Work?

Written and illustrated by fifth grade students from  Hampton Public School in Hampton, NE

In the world of "How does that work?" comes a well researched story about the creation and inner workings of a fascinating machine we've all seen our parents use: the ATM.

Click HERE to see our honorable mentions for this contest.