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.

2015 Grand Prize

2015 Grand Prize Winner: Caretaking

Written and illustrated by fourth and fifth grade students from Hampton Public Schools, Hampton, Nebraska. This insightful story explores the world of caregiving, from that of a Mother's helper to babysitting. The authors contemplate key questions and answers in exploring if this the right venture for you. Grand Prize winning school received a $1,000 award.



2015 - 2nd Place

2015 2nd Place Winner: Working Outdoors

Written and illustrated by fourth and fifth grade students from Hampton Public Schools, Hampton, Nebraska. Digging into the business of lawncare, their story encompasses all aspects, from marketing to customer satisfaction, while  learning life skills, responsibility and money sense. Second place school received a $750 award.

2015 Third Place

2015 3rd Place Winner: Quest For The Perfect Job

Written and illustrated by a fifth grade student from Cornerstone Academy, Omaha, Nebraska.  The story investigates various occupations, where one can earn money and at the same time achieve a strong sense of fulfillment.  Third place received a $500 award.

Click HERE to see our honorable mentions for this contest.

Winner's Picture

2014 Grand Prize Winner: Saving For An Emergency

Written and illustrated by fourth and fifth grade students from Hampton Public Schools. This short story is something every adult should read. It challenges you with financial situations, and makes you think about why saving is so very important in your life. Woven into their story is a challenge: Determine the difference between wants and needs. Now, doesn't that make cents? Grand Prize winning school received a $1,000 award.


Winner's Picture

2014 2nd Place Winner: Saving Money Makes Cents

This story was a cooperative effort between two fourth grade home schoolers from Jaquez Home School and Walter Academy, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Their story indirectly discussed the challenges, and benefits, between just receiving something you want versus working hard and saving for it. Ted really wanted a bike and he works to save for it. The lessons he learns along the way are life changing. Second place received a $750 award.

Winner's Picture

2014 3rd Place Winner: Nest Egg

Written and illustrated by fourth and fifth grade students from Hampton Public School in Hampton, NE. This cleverly illustrated story discusses why you should “build” a nest egg, where you should “place” your nest egg, and even “how to” build a nest egg. This well researched story helps you progress through each stage culminating in fulfilling your dreams. Third place received a $500 award.

Click HERE to see our honorable mentions for this contest.