Monday, January 26, 2015


 Last week I went to a Mindfulness Parent Meeting at an elementary school.  The speaker, Michelle Thompson from Project Mindfulness, was inspiring.  Here are some of the points I heard her make.
  •        Mindfulness does not mean learning to be calm.
  •        Mindfulness is being present in the moment.  When we are present in a moment      we are better able to deal with whatever is going on around us.   Sometimes that leads to being calm.
  •       We should not be judgmental in a negative way about where we are in the practice of being present in each moment. 
  •       We should use our awareness that being distracted is a signal to stop and take a deep breath to focus on the present moment without negative judgment. 
  •       Try to incorporate moments of presence or mindfulness to grow your skills.  2 minutes in the morning to sit quietly breathing, 2 minutes before you go to sleep to do the same or take 3 deep breaths before you eat a meal as examples how to practice mindfulness.  We each need to find times that work in our lives.  Just like every other skill we are trying to learn we get better with practice.
  •        It is our choice to pay attention/ be present/ be mindful.   All of our actions are choices that can lead us to the outcomes we want in life.  By living with awareness we are empowered.

While I was listening, I saw parallels between the practice of mindfulness and our game Choice-A-Quence.  We continue to be excited to get the game in the hands of children.

  •        The purpose of our game is not for children to be calm.  It is for each child to understand that everything he or she does is a choice and that each choice leads to consequences. 
  •        From our experience playing Choice-A-Quence with children, we have found that as a child learns the language of choices and consequences they accept negative consequences more calmly. 
  •        Developing a shared language and set of expectations (in a family or classroom) regarding choices and consequences helps everyone take negative judgment off the individual.  By playing the game and using the cards to deal with real life, children learn to think, I am not a bad person, my choice was bad and this next action is how I will fix my mistake. 
  •        By playing our game often and having the cards displayed, parents and teachers are reminded to address social and behavioral choices, both positive and negative, as they occur.  We are reminded to give positive reinforcement for positive choices along with dealing with negative choices before things go to far. 
  •        We recommend learning the cards slowly over time and focus on choices that are important to your child.

As children and adults learn the language of choices and consequences and start to talk about behavior in this way, everyone feels empowered


Monday, November 10, 2014

November Events

Stacey and I have exciting events coming up in November.

  • St. Lucy's Book Fair - This weekend the elementary school that I attended will have a book fair and introduce/share Let's Choose games with the community.  It will be fun to attend Sunday services, walk down to the book fair and get a chance to talk about the games we've developed.    
  • Chicago Toy and Game Fair - Stacey and I will be sharing our games and catching up on everything toy and game related.  ChiTAG brings together consumers, families, inventors, manufacturers, retailers, educators, hobbyists, and the media, at the start of the holiday season, to play, celebrate, discover, support, and promote the creation of toys and games.   

Stacey and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to bring important ideas that we are passionate about to parents and educators.  All of our games were created while working with real children on real goals and best of all the games are fun to play!

Every day we try to live with awareness and take steps to get our games in the hands of real children so they can learn to live with awareness.

Each game will be out in the world;

  • encouraging children to pay attention to their choices
  • linking choices to consequences 
  • leading to more responsible choices being made 
  • leading to children feeling more confident and powerful with their growing awareness.     

We hope our Let's Choose friends continue playing our games in their schools and homes to grow their skills and live their most productive lives.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sharing Our Games

We received some amazing thank you letters from the students at Metropolitan Schoolhouse here in Chicago.  Last week Stacey was a guest speaker at the school, playing both Centsible Kids and Choice-A-Quence with the students. 

The games are used as part of the curriculum, where a “powerful learner-centered approach to education connects academics with life skills, social skills, communication skills and technology that are necessary in today’s world.”  We love sharing our ideas helping children build their skills to live with the awareness that wise choices are in your control and help you reach your goals. 

Here is what a few of the children had to say in their thank you letters.

   "Thank you for coming to Metropolitan Schoolhouse!  I had lots of fun playing Choice-A-Quence.  I liked it because it shows you that you will make choices in life and there will always be a consequence whether it is good or bad."
   "Thank you for choosing Metropolitan.  I think Choice-A-Quence was a great game because I learned that one choice can have up to 10 consequences!  That's crazy!"
   "Thank you for visiting us and showing our newcomers how to play Centsible Kids and Choice-A-Quence.  They had a lot of fun.  I did too.  My Favorite part was "earning" the Centsible Kids money because it was like really getting it."
   "I liked Centsible Kids.  It helped me to think wisely when it comes to my money.  I want to buy … games at a game store." 

All of the letters were so enthusiastic.  Our mission is helping children live with awareness leading to wise choices.  It is always rewarding when we have a chance to go out and play our games with children. What a reward to hear their feedback and see them making connections and growing their skills.  We wish to give many thanks to Metropolitan Schoolhouse for a fabulous experience. 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Family Meetings

Last week I wrote a post about routines families follow that help children stay organized during the school year.  It led me to think about another routine some families and classrooms follow, the family or classroom meeting.

Jane Nelson, Ed.D. shares her ideas about the benefits of a family meeting in Positive Discipline, her classic guide for families.  One way to help children and parents learn effective communication is to have regular family meetings where they have an opportunity on a weekly basis to brainstorm for solutions to problems and to choose the solutions that are respectful to everyone.

When Stacey, my Lets Choose co-founder, and I worked together in a classroom we included meeting time twice a day.  We were working in a self-contained classroom for children with various learning issues but all struggled with aspects of language.  For us meetings were a great time to work on social and behavior skills.  That was where the ideas behind our Choice-A-Quence game originated. 

1.      We wanted to take time to help the students learn the vocabulary of behavior and social skills. 
2.      Another goal was to grow a shared language around social skills and behavior. 
3.      Lastly, we wanted the children to develop an awareness that they are making choices with every action they take; making eye contact, having a sharpened pencil ready at the start of work time or eating an apple.  Every action we do or dont do is a choice that is followed by a consequence. 

To build that awareness in our meetings we created simple line drawings of 
choices the students might make in our classroom both positive and negative, and consequences that could follow.  Everyday we would       
                       play with the cards -

*A game show making pairs of possible choice and consequence pairs,
*Drawing and writing about choices and their consequences, and
*Role-playing were classroom favorites. 

The children learned the vocabulary and made connections about what could happen in a hypothetical non-threatening way.

Stacey and I were pleased at how consistent we were using the language from our cards to talk about real behaviors that were happening in class.   By October children were learning to play with the cards and use them to talk about real choices.

With my family we have a meeting a few times each year to coordinate our calendars a few times a year.  We make sure to plan what we want to happen and leave free time so we are not too busy.  A family with 3 older boys has a weekly meeting to share books they are reading and ideas of what they might be interested in doing when they grow up.  They have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. 

How would your family use meeting time?