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!

 


Let Your Kids Impress You

Assumptions have always been my weakness. I make too many. I try to predict other peoples reactions or how a scenario might play out so I can prepare for whatever the next steps are ahead of time. When I am correct, I save time and effort, plus experience internal satisfaction, as we all do, that I got it right!

But for the times I am wrong, sometimes there is frustration or annoyance because my plans have fallen apart and I have to reorganize "the game plan". A simple example is planning how much food to make when company comes over. Too much or too little. Rarely my assumptions are correct.

But what I absolutely LOVE, is when my assumptions are wrong and the results are AMAZING. That is exactly what happened to me last week.

This summer, Build a Biz Kids launched our Inventor's Paradise 1 Week Summer Camp and it was amazing! Everyday the students left so excited about the ideas they came up with and the prototypes they were able to design from scratch, all based on their imagination.

On the first day, the last activity is to capture a pink fluffy monster who is hiding out in their closet, eating marshmallows and chewing holes in their socks. That little rascal! Their job is the design a trap to capture this pink fluffy monster using materials they are provided. Well, to plan this camp, you need to make MANY assumptions because you want to ensure you give them all supplies that they can work with and not limit their imagination. At the same time, you don't want to bring the entire Michaels Craft Store to each day of camp. So, I thought, if I were them, how would I make a trap.

My first thought, Tissue Boxes! Of course! They will want to capture a monster in a box with whatever mechanism they come up with but a box would be the main part of their trap for sure! Throughout the months prior, I ensured that I could collect enough tissue boxes for everyone as well as other supplies like paper cups, string, elastics and so much more. I wanted to make sure they could really let their minds wander.

Well, the day came and the facilitators explained their task. Catch That Monster! And they did, Oh Boy did they ever! And guess what?! Only ONE of them used a tissue box. Other than that, each student did something completely different and amazing! I was so impressed.

In fact, each day they came up with cell phone holders, robotic claws, and even arcades games, all made by their own two hands and vivid imagination. It was truly one of the most fun camps ever and we can't wait to make a few tweaks and run it again next week. In fact, we have 3 more Inventor Paradise Camps left this summer.

You can find the 2019 Summer Schedule and additional details here. 

So, I guess there is a bit of a lesson here, for me anyway. Planning dinners are hard; stop trying to get it right. And, Kids have different, more dynamic imaginations than you. Don't place assumptions on what they WILL do. Don't set limitations on what they CAN do. Just give them the space, and they will impress you every time.


Solving Problems, 1 At a Time Isn't Enough

I think that all of us can agree, there are a lot of problems in the world. Some, of course, are higher priority than others. don't get me wrong, today we live in a world that is more incredible than any other generation through technology, innovation and modern comforts. But, there are still human need crises that need our attention such as homelessness, illiteracy, war, illness; Man made problems that have come from these modern developments, such as plastics in oceans, air pollution and climate change; not to mention day to day hassles of keeping my iPhone charged, getting stains our of my favourite shirt and keeping my house clean.

If you have a long "To Do" list like I do, then perhaps you have a tendency to tackle the easier ones first; build that momentum up and hopefully take on the bigger ones "Later", whenever that is....

When looking at the world around us, listening to the news or scrolling through my Facebook feed, I can't help but think that the world can sometimes takes this approach as well. I can buy blinds with a remote that makes them go up and down automatically, buy booties for my dog's paws and even have the luxurious option of sitting in my car while it runs on a track and a machines washes my car **touchless**, yet we haven't figured out a way to get clean water to 3rd world countries, and in some cases, even in parts of North America such as Flint, MI. It seems off balanced, no? All of these incredible minds and millions of dollars in spending are being utilized to make our every days lives even more enjoyable, easier and certainly more fashionable.

We seek to teach our students that, rather than complaining about it or chatting with friends about what a mess the world is in while enjoying the luxuries around us, let's find a solution and take immediate action to see where we end up and then do it all over again. As we don't want to be hypocrites, at Build a Biz Kids, we try to take on the same approach, but not all positive contributions are a direct, head on course to providing clean water to more communities.

We believe that each and every one of us have special skills and talents that can bring incredible change to the world, as well as incredible fulfillment to the individuals providing the solutions. But this is key! While some can naturally play every sport out there with a good degree of skill, others have 2 left feet but, instead, can take a computer apart and put it back together again. Some might have struggled through school and even failed a large part of science and math class but once triggered by a surging desire to make positive change and contribution, all of the sudden their limitations in math are no longer an issue (Thomas Edison, who developed one of the first light bulbs, was one of these people).

Where I believe we go wrong, in many ways, is by asking the wrong questions of ourselves. Instead of asking, "how can I make a positive difference in the world?", the question should be, "based who I am when I feel happy, what I am driven to learn more about and that I would be excited to execute on, that could positively effect the world?".

I would like to introduce Kelly & Desiree. They started Ruben's Shoes. "Ruben's Shoes believes that every child should have access to an Education.
They believe that all children are the same and every single child around the world should have access to the same opportunities, regardless of where they were born or where they live."

60 million children around the world are not able to attend school. One of the reasons why, is shoes. Aside from the incredible long walks many of them have to take each day to get to school, once there, they are not allowed entry without a proper set of shoes. For many families, shoes are an expense they can't afford. Kelly met Ruben in the Dominican Republic and he completely changed her life. She saw the extreme poverty they lived in but also felt the love they gave her while she was there. She decided that day to help. She didn't know what the solution was right away, nor understood how big her mission could take her, but she DID know the answer to the question above.

  • Based on who she was, she couldn't stand by and do nothing.
  • She was driven by the mission to help this family, and others like them
  • She was willing to learn the logistics and mechanics of helping Ruben and families like his
  • And WOW, was she excited to get started with this mission to positively effect the world

Kelly and Desiree started Rubens shoes with just the small thought of collecting shoes and sending them to the Dominican. In just a short time, these little shoe drives became enormous containers of shoes being shipped each year.

Now, they have managed to build an elementary school and have a high school that is due to complete construction in the Dominican in the fall of 2020.

If Kelly had asked herself, "how can I make a positive difference in the world" while working as an Insurance Broker with Desiree at the time, just think of how much time she would have spent spinning her wheels trying to figure it out. Maybe she could try recycling more, maybe she could volunteer a few times a week. But that would have been the wrong question at the time. Instead she opened herself up to an experience, met new people, and had a kind heart which led her to Ruben.

So, let's bring it back to where we started in this article. There are a LOT of Problems in the World. How much time today did you spend thinking of those without drinking water? Kids without shoes? Did you notice plastic in the ocean and spend an hour trying to figure out a solution? No? Don't worry, me neither. Most of us have our own day to day problems we are facing or, in a sad way, we have grown accustomed to hearing about these issues, seeing them but not really looking at them. We see a story on Facebook and get angry or sad for a moment, wish them the best and them keep scrolling onto the next one. We play our small part and maybe pick up litter off the ground if we see it but to tackle it in a bigger way, it's not at the top of our To Do List.

You might be saying, enough with the shame game! What is Build a Biz Kids doing about anything? Well, here are the answers to that same question above.

  • Based on who we are, Entrepreneurship is what we know and love. EVERY child deserves to learn these skills earlier than college
  • We are driven to learn what we need to do to provide this education to students, as young as age 7, through until they graduate high school
  • We are MASSIVELY excited to execute quickly on reaching 100,000 students directly by 2035 with these skills
  • Our desire is to instill awareness & Social Entrepreneurship skills in children & youth so they can view their world differently, utilize their raw creativity to seek new solutions, and tap into their natural emotional connection they have towards topics that matter to them. We look to develop 100,000 NEW problem solvers in the world who are equipped with the tools, support and skills to take action on their ideas.

http://BuildaBizKids.com 

Inventor's Paradise is a NEW Summer Camp this summer, 2019, that tackles problem solving in a BIG way. In this 1 week, full day camp, students tackle problems in their life, their friends and families, and even the world! But then they take ACTION! They develop prototypes and test solutions over and over again to understand that nothing is ever perfect, but it's always a start to making things better for people around them.

Summer Camps are registering now for Summer 2019
https://buildabizkids.com/summer-camp-schedule/