The Power of Gamification with Your Kids

It's no big surprise that most kids love games. In fact, most adults do as well when we have time to play them (as experienced at a recent bachelor party that ended with a bunch of guys playing board games. Getting married after 40 is much different than in your 20's lol)

So the question is this. Are we fully utilizing the power of gaming to inspire action in our kids?

The logic runs as follows.

Gaming:
- We all want to win the game
- To win, action must be taken
- Strategy must be determined, planned and executed on
- Winning or losing can still be fun as it truly is the journey that is so exciting

Life:
- We all want to be happy in life, often achieved by working & achieving goals
- To reach our goals, action must be taken
- Developing a strategy can help us achieve more goals faster
- Ideally, achieving a goal or not, the happiness should be found in the journey

So, why not teach kids when they are young to gamify, well, everything? And for that matter, let's encourage adults to "play the game" of life as well so we can demonstrate authentically how fun personal, professional and social development can be?!

Here's an example of what I mean. Today we completed one of our Inventor's Paradise camps and it was phenomenal! It's set up to be a fun and innovative boot camp of learning how to see & solve problems in multiple ways and then take action to innovate and develop real, live prototypes. It's so much fun to see what these young minds come up with!

Anyway, one of the modules is designed to get them seeing outside of their day to day bubble and out into the BIG world they live in to find solutions to remove or prevent plastic in the ocean, supporting charitable organizations doing great things to clean water or feed the homeless sustainably, as well as designing a community gathering place (pictured) where people of all ages can come together and form true community bonds.

**Quick side note - I was SO impressed with what the students did in this camp but this particular exercise was mind blowing! They did it in just a few hours as a team and everyone was only 8-12 years old! I get excited for the future of our world when I see things like this.

  

But back to Gamification and how to utilize it, one of our other lessons was designed to teach them to look at the details of what's around them; literally. We designed a scavenger hunt and they decided they wanted to compete in teams. This scavenger hunt had items like, find someone who could use a hand and, if safe, help them; Find something that is broken and needs fixing; Find something that you could improve and make work better through innovation; And of course, find 3 pieces of garbage and pick it up.

WELL, they took this scavenger hunt and RAN with it, to the tune of massive bags of garbage collected. When there was some extra time at the end of class and the facilitators asked what they would like to do, they all said, "Can we go pick up more garbage?" Mission accomplished!

Although we are not able to be at each camp all the time, we always try to be there for graduation so we can meet the students and hear about their experiences throughout the camp. It's also a great opportunity for us to speak with the parents and hear their stories of development they have noticed within their own children throughout the week.

One week I spoke with a mother of a student who took our Lemonade Stand Challenge. Her son was somewhat easily distracted during lessons and often gave answers that were silly when asked questions. He is a lovely young man but a little hard to keep engaged at times. What was fascinating to watch, however, was once the Lemonade Stand Challenge begun, he was FOCUSED! I couldn't believe the change in his demeanor and how serious and on top of things he became. No silly words; no going off topic or wandering off. He wanted to sell and he wanted to win the challenge!

When I spoke with his mother I told her how impressed I was with his performance during the Lemonade Stand and that competition really seemed to drive him. She laughed and said, "Oh Yes! I learned that a while ago." In fact, she uses it. To get him to clean his room. Rather than saying, "can you clean you room?", she says, "I bet you can't clean your room in 15 minutes". His competitive nature engages and his room is clean within 15min!

I get it, I'm sure many of you are saying, my kid would never fall for that. Well, perhaps, but all kids engage in different ways and have different triggers and that is the point. Gaming is a common thread among all of us but the types of games we like to play are different. Our kids didn't come with instruction manuals, unfortunately, but through trial and error and engagement, we can figure out what get's them going.

Schools are also noticing gaming as a trend and now do math problems on iPads for points. My son's teacher last year even introduce a monetary economy of "money" for completing things that cashed in for pencils or stickers, etc.

Of course, what we really want is for them to WANT to make their bed and WANT to clean their room but we actually force anyone to love something that isn't fun. In fact, we as adults don't even enjoy many of the tasks that we do on a daily basis which is why gaming as adults can make mundane tasks fun and feel purposeful again!

Here's an example of game boards I have made for myself over the years. (pictured below) What I did was take a magnetic whiteboard and divided it into 3 categories of "Adulting" Tasks (things that need to get done like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, etc), Physical & Mental Health (going to the gym, meditating, eating well, going to bed on time, etc), and Personal & Academic Learning and Development (reading, learning a new skill, writing, puzzles, etc).

Over time I kept adjusting the board depending on what was working and what wasn't and modified the points accordingly. If something was REALLY hard for me to "want" to do but was really critical that I get it done, then I would give it more points to make it more enticing. Each day I had a goal for points that I had to hit. If I was above that threshold, I was moving life and myself forward. If below, I was falling behind. It helped me with gaining perspective on my life goals and ensuring I made time for the things I enjoyed doing, as well as getting the stuff done that needed to get done quickly and with less resentment.

It also totally got me doing WAY more of the things that I would often procrastinate on such as learning skills that I always wanted to learn. On my board I would get 3pts if I spent 5min working on a goal learning something I always wanted to learn. During this time I learned how to do the 3x3, 4x4 and 5x5 Rubix cube, how to juggle and many other little things that I always wanted to learn. As I would add points to my board each day, I would find myself feeling excited about my progress that was starting to feel so simple. I would end up looking for other things I could do, but wouldn't normally, just to get more points. Laundry needs folding? Sure! I can fold the one load that is done and get 3 more points. No prob!

Going to the gym? Perfect! I would get points only for the actual sets I would complete, so, doing that one extra set became easily encouraged knowing I would really be excelling that day.

As it progressed, and only as it progressed, I started to introduce negative points when I would do behaviour I was trying to quit such as binge watching TV or being on Facebook to long. To track my progress, I had magnets that I would place next to each item I accomplished for the day and then reset at the start of the next. It was so much fun and got me into some really critical habits. I used this board for about 2 years.

Back to the kids. So, while the list below is only a fraction of ideas you can try with your kids, or even yourself, it might be a great start. I have used many of them myself, some that work and some that didn't. It's important to note that not every game needs to have a prize, although sometimes that can help. Just remember, prizes can be something intangible like, they can choose dinner or the movie that day, or they get to sleep with the puppy tonight, extra iPad time, or other things they enjoy but perhaps don't always get to do.

  • A Game Board of Points and Progress - Get a white board and list the goals for each day with a point value next to them. Perhaps, making their bed, making breakfast, reading for 15min, creating a craft or building something unique in Lego, and so on. If your goal is to get them off their iPad, list things with them that they have always wanted to learn how to do, like playing a guitar or skateboarding at the park on the list. Mix in daily chores and reminder of what they need to do each day. List points and then a prize column. 25 points might get them tickets to the movies, 50pts might "buy" them new runners or sunglasses, etc.
  • Dice! - Dice can be used in so many ways! Roll a 6 and mom or dad will do one chore on your list for you. Otherwise, it's up to them to get what's done on their daily chore list. Or have a list of what each dice number represents. 3 Means an outdoor activity, 5 means they can choose the movie, or whatever their incentives are. As long as they get their chores done, they get what's on the dice.
  • Race Them! Set up challenges where you race them to complete your daily chore list. Maybe they have to match all the socks while you fold the laundry to see who wins! Maybe they have to clean their room while you clean the kitchen. Who will win!?
  • Basketball! - Yes, it will take longer, but tossing items that need to be washed into a basketball hoop hamper or toys into a bin can spice it up quickly.

How about you? How have you been able to add gaming into your child's world to get them excited to learn or complete tasks?

Happy Gaming!

 


What’s Your Problem?

We’re surrounded by problems. We have designed our day around the activities that we deem to be mandatory while minimizing the resistance we feel towards them. Everyday we are resisting that task we know needs to be done. Whether it’s taking out the garbage or folding laundry, there is something you know needs to be done and you are avoiding it.

But what if we stopped to think about those activities and decided what it was that we did not like about them. Is it possible to turn this activity into something we do enjoy?

This week we are challenging the kids in our Inventor's Paradise Summer Camp to review their day and look for “problems” that they would like to avoid. Can you picture it? Waking up in the morning and looking around? What is the first thing you encounter that you don't want to do? Brush your teeth? Make your bed? Then what? Maybe finishing your reading homework and having to tie your shoe laces.

These can be considered problems, irritations, time consuming or just something less than enjoyable. Either way, if you feel this way, chances are that others do as well and THAT's an opportunity.

Next comes finding solutions. Developing solutions IS a skill and something that we are not born with. It is a muscle that we need to exercise or else we just become complainers and that person who calls the cops because the music from the Ice Cream Mans truck is disruptive.

We ask them to invent a solution to this problem that can be as elaborate as a robot that will make their bed and clean their room on command to a simple clip that will keep their shoes tied and stop them from coming undone. We love their uninhibited imagination and we are consistently inspired by the depth of ingenuity a 7-12 year old possesses. At that age, they don't think in terms of limits, logistics and "reality". They just think what would be cool and how it could work. It may sound silly and cute but when you look at someone like Elon Musk, he still holds this type of solution oriented thinking. A skill that NASA, Ford and Toyota lost a long time ago.

With their newfound belief that they can make a difference in their lives with a simple solution to an everyday problem, we ask our KidPreneurs to step outside of themselves to develop their observation skills to help others. They begin by looking at a day in the life of their parents or siblings. What is a task or chore they do not enjoy and can we use our new creative solution thinking to make the life of someone we love a little easier? We continue to challenge our kids a little more by asking about ways they can apply the same newfound skills to the world outside of their home. They have found ways to help community members such as inventing ways of identify everyday household items for the visually impaired, removing plastics from the ocean and even developing a community space for their city!

It's fun for them and fun for us to explore the wacky and wild ideas they come up with, but more often then not they also come to a realization about half way through the week. There’s a moment when a student decides that an idea is also a possibility and with the right resources, it can become real! It’s at this point that even their language takes a turn from “we could do this...” to “I can do this…”

You see, in this camp, it isn't just theory or talking about problems and make believe robots. They take immediate ACTION as well! For every solution they develop, they create a prototype invention to test, adjust and test again. It becomes real for them and the confidence they build when they can see that their ideas are valid and possible are priceless.

There’s magic in the smile of a child who’s just found a way to make a difference in someone’s day. It’s incredibly exciting for us to watch the discovery of their ability to impact others. We believe that kids are naturally curious and willing to try new ways to make the world around them a little better.

What seems to be the age when we decided to accept the “problems” around us and stop looking for creative solutions? Our Inventors Paradise Summer Camp has reinvigorated my curiosity and inspires me to see my day’s challenges as puzzles and problems as opportunities. Who doesn’t love solving a puzzle?


Meet Alexa! This Weeks KidPreneur Profile!!

Alexa is a Real KidPreneur! Here's a bit about Alexa and her journey as a KidPreneur with Build a Biz Kids!

It Started at Summer Camp!

Alexa started with us at just 10 years old in our Lemonade Stand Challenge Summer Camp with her brother. Her camp worked hard and was divided girls against the boys. Together, both teams created their own business strategies and launch their businesses to raise funds for the great local Charity, Starfish Pack!

Altogether, these students raised a HUGE $490 in their 1 week camp!!! WOW!

Full KidPreneur Spring Program, Continuing Her Development!

Next, Alexa took on the challenge and enrolled in our 10 week KidPreneur Start Up Program where she was inspired by a family friend's business. From that, Alexa's Take-and-Bake was born! She sold mason jars filled with Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie ingredients that you can just Take-and-Bake! Her packaging was beautiful and her Pop Up Shop Launch was a Success! She says that she is excited to keep growing it with new recipes!

Alexa's advice to other kids wanting to start their own business is twofold.
1. Focus on your packaging and display. Attractive packaging and a nice looking business will attract more customers to your business to buy from you.
2. Practice your elevator pitch. You will need to practice what you want to say to a customer because you only have a small amount of time to tell them what you have.

Continuing Her Practical Skills Development

Alexa, along with another BBK KidPreneur Ishani, did an Instagram Takeover for Ruben's Shoes at their Annual Ruben's Rukus event! Alexa and Ishani were able to go around interviewing kids about their experience and building their public speaking and confidence!

Where to Next? 
The great thing about Alexa is she loves a new challenge. She takes over the mic at her brothers ball games to announce the players during the game and is in musical theatre as well. I'm sure we haven't see the last of her!

Your child can start their entrepreneurial journey This Summer! The Lemonade Stand Challenge is BACK along with a brand new camp, Inventor's Paradise!

View more on these camps and our other programs here!