Extension Provides Educational Resources beyond Iowa Borders

AMES, Iowa – In 2011 Ernst & Young began partnering with Biz Kid$, a national financial education television series about kids, money and business, to provide educational materials for its EY Connect Day program. Soon a search for kid-focused budgeting activities led Biz Kid$ to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

For years, Iowa youth have been developing and maintaining the basic financial skill of budgeting through ISU Extension’s Allowance Game. Biz Kid$ took note and adapted the Allowance Game to include in its lesson plan to complement an episode about budgeting.

“My task was to watch Episode #304: Where’s My Allowance, to become familiar with its learning objectives and content, and then to create a corresponding lesson plan with the Biz Kid$ team. Our goal was to highlight the content in the episode and provide for hands-on learning opportunities that EY Connect Day volunteers could then complete with middle and high school students in the classroom,” said Kathleen Sullivan, Biz Kid$ outreach coordinator. “After watching the episode, I conducted some online research to determine what other allowance-related/educational activities have already been created by educators in the past and I came across Extension’s Allowance Game. I recognized the educational value and exemplary content in the game and sought out permission to adapt it.”

After Sullivan obtained permission from ISU Extension and Outreach to adapt the game, the modified game was included in the lesson plan and presented to Ernst & Young for use in its EY Connect Day education outreach program. The program began in August 2011 nationally. Ernst & Young employees participate in conjunction with schools with the EY Connect program at least once a year, explained Sullivan.

ISU Extension’s original Allowance Game budgeting categories were modified to create the adapted, hands-on Biz Kid$ learning activity. Episode #304 features a Twilight saga sketch. Elements from this Twilight sketch, Stella & Nedward’s Allowance Game, were incorporated into the adapted Biz Kid$ game. In the episode, Stella learns to live within her means with the help of Nedward’s financial guidance.

According to Sullivan, Episode #304 has three objectives:

  • Identify different ways kids can earn an allowance.
  • Understand what kids can do with an allowance – save, share and spend.
  • Recognize the importance of discussing money as a family.

Sullivan recognized the value and similarity within the objectives in The Allowance Game, received permission from ISU Extension to adapt it and went on to modify the game.

Sullivan worked closely with Biz Kid$ executive producers Jeannine Glista and Jamie Hammond to create and adapt the activity. Graphic designer Jill Kemp also played a role in designing and branding the final EY Connect Day lesson plans.

“It is important to teach youth about the concepts of planning use of limited resources, in other words, how to budget an allowance and set priorities,” said Iowa State University Professor and Extension Specialist Cynthia Needles Fletcher. “These concepts are taught effectively using experiential learning activities.”

Extension educators adapted The Spending Game, an earlier ISU publication targeting young adults, when they saw the need for a hands-on exercise for youth audiences. The result was The Allowance Game, first published in 1998. According to Fletcher, both games are used nationwide.

ISU Extension and Outreach receives requests to use its publications and other educational materials from all around the world each week, explained Joani Schweitzer, manager of educational materials for extension.

“This collaboration illustrates the ripple effect of ISU Extension and Outreach work,” Fletcher said. “Our work extends far beyond the Iowa borders, and it validates the quality and skills of our extension educators to design meaningful and effective educational tools.”


Contact: Kathleen Sullivan, Biz Kid$ Outreach Coordinator, kathleen.b.sullivan@gmail.com