Powerful Books for Kids: Bea is for Business

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Bea is for Business

We just discovered an amazing way to teach our girls the value of business through the amazing new book series,Bea is for Business. Created by Jamie Brown, Bea is for Business is an educational platform designed to teach children about business through the confident character, Bea. My six-year-old daughter and I have been reading the series, and she mesmerized by the charismatic Bea who takes an interest for business and a passion for using her business to help her friends. This includes the books, Bea is for Business and The Party Planning Venture. To learn more about this series, we chatted with Jamie Brown about how business can be taught to our kids in this new and fun way.

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Momtrends: How did the idea for Bea is for Business come about?

Jamie Brown: The original Bea is for Business concept came to me (Jamie) one day when I was playing on the floor with my kids. The name ‘Bea is for Business’ came to me first. Then, I realized I had never come across any concepts that helped teach children about business. As an MBA who strongly believes in the power of business mindedness in today’s world, the idea quickly became a passion!

I reached out to a couple friends to just get feedback - one of whom was Meg Seitz - a friend who was pursuing her MBA at the time. We went to Chipotle for lunch, and I remember her looking me right in the eyes and saying, “I want to help you with it.”

Meg and I teamed up and eventually launched Bea is for Business in August of 2013. We’ve been teaching kids about business through our books and website and classroom interactions ever since!

To us, our passion has grown stronger as we’ve seen the response from kids and parents – and as we realize, more and more, the importance that entrepreneurial spirits will play in the economy as our children get older.

Momtrends: What has been the response of the books?

Jamie Brown: Kids love talking about business! They are so accustomed to mommies and daddies talking about business, money and jobs - and they want to do the same! Almost always, after kids are exposed to the books, they are inspired to start thinking about their own business ideas.

That is exactly what we had hoped for in creating the stories - which we write as kid-friendly business case studies. They are meant to inspire and make kids think and dream and innovate.

Some of our favorite responses come from classrooms. For example, we’ve received “Letters to Bea” from students, letting Bea know about their business ideas. It is amazing to see creative thinking, math, innovation, writing and strategy all pulled into one letter. Those are the sorts of feedback that really keep us going, and inspire us as we work on the next books!

Momtrends: What can parents do to encourage their girls to go into business?

Jamie Brown: Kids are inspired when we simply say “yes” to an idea. By opening the door for children to learn about business, they begin to understand that ‘business’ is safe territory. They will start asking questions, coming up with ideas, and talking about the topic on their own.

Fundamentally, we encourage parents to let kids ‘play’ with business. Here are a few ideas of ways to play at home:

1. Let’s Shop!
Let your kids set out "merchandise" for a homemade store. The merchandise can be set out on a couch or the floor. Then, as a customer, bring money to purchase items from your shopkeeper. Kids can have fun trading real money, making price tags, 'pretend' scanning items, and bagging the merchandise after it's been purchased!

Some follow-up questions to talk about as a family:
What was your favorite part of setting up a store?

If you could sell anything in the world, what would you sell and where?

2. ‘Assembling’ Dinner
Invite your kid(s) to help put dinner together via an assembly line! Some of our favorite dishes to try are tacos, breaded chicken or enchiladas. In the case of tacos, give your child a task to complete—like filling each taco with ground turkey or topping each taco with salsa. As the tacos come together at the end of the assembly line, talk through how each step was important in making the final product.

Some follow-up questions to talk about as a family:

What would happen if one person didn’t do his or her job on the dinner assembly line?
Did any jobs take longer than others? Which ones? Why?

3. Let’s Catalog It!
Arts and crafts can fuel productive business conversations. Take several old magazines, and let your child cut out pictures of items he or she wants to put in a catalog to sell. Glue pictures on each page and staple multiple pieces together for a larger catalog. Under each chosen item, ask your child to put a price. Older kids can be challenged to find prices online and cross-compare!

Some follow-up questions to talk about as a family:

Why do companies or brands use catalogs? Why are some in the mail versus online?
Do you think some items would be more expensive than others? Why?

Momtrends: What business ideas can young girls foster at a young age?

Jamie Brown: We’ve had so many ideas discussed by classrooms and through letters to Bea, including:

Dog walking

Pet sitting

Weeding lawns

Cookie stand

Flowers – bouquets, dried or fresh

Rainbow Loom bracelets

Painting nails

Duck-tape purses

Sea shells – painted or plain

Reselling water

Caramel popcorn

Party-planning business

Hot chocolate

Shoveling snow

Any of these businesses can be great for boys or girls, and they help kids learn about money, planning, making a product and more!

Our Bea is for Business books help kids by supplementing this sort of play with actual real-life business terms, like brainstorming, inventory, assembly line, or market research. In addition, the books help kids think strategically about ideas so they begin to understand the importance of thinking through ideas, being flexible, and even making a positive difference in the world.

Momtrends: Anything else to add?

Jamie Brown: While we have our three books out (2 leveled readers and 1 chapter book), we also have a host of teaching resources online for the classroom or at-home learning. Some activities are meant to supplement the book reading, but others are just meant to help parents start the business conversation at home. There are even simple kids business plans to help kids think through an idea!

The resources are free, and can be found on our website www.beaisforbusiness.com. We also have an active twitter (@bea4biz) and facebook (www.facebook.com/bea4biz) following where we talk about kids and business on a daily basis.

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