Drop Everything and Read (+ Write!)

Unicorn Wins Election 2016!

History has been made! Unicorn was elected President! On the first day as President, the White House lawn began growing colorful sparkles. The Secret Service agents wore pink ties and sunglasses that Unicorn spotted on Pinterest. Unicorn went to play golf (because that’s what presidents do) with the Vice President but their golf cart got too close to the pond and a sharkbearigator tried to eat them! Later that day, Unicorn turned all dollars into candy, and the whole world was happier. What will happen next? Dun dun dun…

congrats-uni

It could happen. That’s because anything’s possible with the Crazy Story Game. STORY CRAZE is the hilarious new game that sparks imagination, creativity, and conversation in children ages six and older as they make up hilarious stories. Developed with kids, this game is play-tested and kid approved.

STORY CRAZE uses random PEOPLE, PLACES, and THINGS cards like rainbow spewing unicorns, secret lairs and french fries as cues to ignite outside-the-box thinking. Kids unplug from technology and have fun hanging out with each other.

Children create three-chapter stories and with each chapter, kids pick new cards that fill their stories with crazy twists and turns. In the end, a judge awards points to winning chapters, and the team with the most points wins.

STORY CRAZE is not only fun to play with friends and family; it has also proven to be a great activity for birthday parties, youth groups, after-school programs, camps, home schooling, and to assist children with special needs.

Check it out on Kickstarter! We are 60% funded with 13 days to go. Check out our project at www.storycraze.com.

Do NOT color within the lines. Please.

divergent-thinking-1-728Ever heard of Divergent Thinking? Unless you’re a teacher or a counselor or psychotherapist, probably not.

And, according to parenting.com, it is the KEY to problem solving and is the backbone of creativity — understanding what the problem is, and then imagining the possibilities of what could be.

Divergent thinking is different, out-of-the-box, atypical, and maybe a little off-key. It’s the process of generating multiple related ideas for a given topic or solutions to a problem. It’s the study of things like fluency, originality, flexibility, and collaboration.

And in order to be successful in life, isn’t that what our kids really need to learn? 

“The word creativity, in our society, tends to be applied to artistic endeavors. But divergent thinking is an essential part of everyday life, whether it’s navigating office politics or devising a new social-media network.” It’s essential to your child’s success. 

Creativity scores have significantly decreased since 1990. In researching why that is, we realized that The No Child Left Behind Act has a relentless focus on performance and that it has seeped down to the earliest levels of education.  Standardized testing in kindergarten? Schools are spending more time and effort drilling for exams and less time supporting creative, child-driven learning. In other words, rather than the answers being A or  B or C, there is only one right answer.

While we were developing STORY CRAZE, we saw first-hand how divergent thinking, especially in a collaborative environment, creates something really special.  Kids draw cards containing topics that are completely unrelated.  Then, they’re challenged to collaborate with others while stretching their imaginations to the sky’s limit to create out-of-the-box solutions. And it doesn’t hurt that all the way through that divergent thinking there is laughter.  Lots of laughter. And great friendships made.

What are your thoughts on relentless standardized testing? Would you like to see more divergent thinking and creativity used in the classroom? 

ABOUT 

Jen editedJan2016_O2A9648Ellen Stebbins and Marcie Jacobs are the founders of StoryClub Games, where imaginations run wild! Our products create experiences where people connect and get to know one another better, stretch their imaginations and have loads of fun. 

Our newest game, STORY CRAZE, is live on Kickstarter at www.storycraze.com. It’s the new game for kids 6+ of random ideas, silly combinations, and crazy stories. It’s different every time you play! Developed with kids, this game uses random PEOPLE, PLACES, and THINGS cards as cues to ignite outside-the-box thinking to make up outrageously witty, laugh out loud 3-chapter stories. Kids UNPLUG from technology and have fun hanging out together!

Just Flipped the #Kickstarter Switch ON and…

just-launched-photoLaunching a Kickstarter campaign could be one of the most nerve-racking experiences of our lives. White knuckled pride is an interesting juxtaposition of emotions. And yet, we’re overwhelmingly proud of what we have accomplished. 

We began the process of creating a fun children’s creative story writing game over a year ago.  Mostly out of the fact that looking around, all you see are kids glued to their electronics and communicating in, what appeared to be, a language of their very own.  We felt there needed to be some mechanism that brought kids together (yes, in person), sparked imagination, and conjured up creativity and conversation. As in ‘real words’ kind of conversation. And, guess what?  It worked!

The past year of play-testing with hundreds of kids has been a super fun part of this project. The children continuously blow us away with their un-jaded naivete of what is possible.  I mean, why couldn’t the scary lunch lady at school have a secret button on her spatula that makes the floor open to the bat cave? Or why can’t Dr. Gravity live for a million years to perfect his formula for flying even with some weird side effects? Why couldn’t there be a dude called Shamalamadingdong who lives in a magical place called Unicornlandia and flies around on a magic carpet? 

Yes, content development and play-testing were the fun part. And getting the prototypes designed and made is also fun.  The challenging part was creating this Kickstarter and all that goes into putting a plan together. And believe us, you must love your project because this is truly a labor of love. At least for us, it is. So what goes into the making of a Kickstarter project? Let’s just talk  in general, big picture terms here. 

First, there is the video. So you watch, I don’t know, maybe fifty Kickstarter videos so you get a sense of what you like and what you don’t like. Then you record and edit. And then re-record and edit. And then re-record and edit some more. 

Second are the graphics vs. actual copy. What to put in graphic form and what to put in text form? In the end, you do a little of each and a lot of both. Especially when you have fun images like unicorns, sharkbearigators, and flying dragons. And then you edit and edit and edit some more. 

Third are the rewards. It’s so cool that backers can pledge to help make our dream come true and get some really great rewards out of the deal! But what do you choose? How can you be super creative? Can you structure them in such a way that backers can help you start a movement? What about stretch goals? 

Finally, there is the marketing and press piece. And this is what leads up to the flipping that GO switch. The list development. The Ambassador team. The social media posts. The  social media ads. The marketing graphics. The Press. The Bloggers. The groups. The forums. The emails. The texts. The instant messages. The launch party. Lord, why are we having a launch party?

Needless to say, our eyes are red, our fingers are cramped, and our butts numb. 

So the emotions are running high right now. From moment to moment we go from excitement to fear. But we agree that this white knuckled pride feels good.  Especially when we know how much kids love Story Craze, the crazy story game!

So, let’s spark imaginations all over the world together!

To find out more, please visit www.storycraze.com.

Marcie & Ellen

pink-heart-white-bkgd

“Have fun while writing….which not a lot of things can do!”

Think about it. Teaching a kid to write a story is hard for the kid, but also hard for the teacher. However, through developing Story Craze, we have found that kids are some of the most (if not THE most) creative thinkers on the planet. The way they come up with ideas and rationale for how and why totally unrelated things CAN relate, well it’s just downright incredible. And as an adult, to witness this happen is magical. 

Creating a game with kids and watching how they come together, share ideas and real-life experiences with one another to come up with crazy solutions we realize just how many benefits there are with creative writing that have long-lasting effects over those of formal essay writing. 

Kristen Bellows of Ontario is a director of literary camps for children in Toronto and has been working with kids for years.  She says there are 5 Benefits of Creative Writing for Children

Here are five benefits, according to Kristen.

1.  Creative writing encourages children to use their imagination. Not only is this fun for children to do, but it also allows children to practice how to think ‘outside of the box’. In the long run, children who write creatively will be able to broaden their thought process and think of the world in a different and unique way from their peers.

2.  Creative writing develops reading, writing and learning skills. While writing, children are exploring words and grammar. This will help later in life when children are writing professionally in various capacities and also in their verbal language.

3,  Creative writing develops self-confidence and identity. By creating something themselves and exploring different types of characters who face a variety of issues children learn about themselves as well as seeing that they have the ability to create something unique and praise worthy.

4.  Creative writing teaches children about empathy! When a child is writing about a particular character they are putting themselves into the “shoes” of that character. How do they feel? How do they behave? All of that teaches children about how to be empathetic towards others in the real world.

5.  Creative writing provides an emotional outlet Children have the opportunity to express certain thoughts and ideas in a safe manner. By having a character live out their own feelings offers children the opportunity to safely sort out and process feelings that may be upsetting for them.

We think that creative thinking and writing is one of the best things you and your children can do together. Stretching your imaginations together is not only fun, but the sky is the limit on what crazy stories you’ll conjure up.

And creative writing will boost your child’s chances of being President because WOW….you must be a creative thinker to be on the campaign trail!!!

Every minute of the day our lives are filled with real stories. They are just waiting to be created and shared.

 

ABOUT 

Jen editedJan2016_O2A9648Ellen Stebbins and Marcie Jacobs are the founders of StoryClub Games, where imaginations run wild! Our products create experiences where people connect and get to know one another better, stretch their imaginations and have loads of fun. 

Our newest game, STORY CRAZE, is live on Kickstarter at www.storycraze.com. It’s the hilarious game that sparks imagination, creativity, and conversation in children to make up crazy stories. Developed with kids, it’s play-tested and kid approved! STORY CRAZE uses random PEOPLE, PLACES, and THINGS cards as cues to ignite outside-the-box thinking to make up outrageously funny stories. Kids UNPLUG from technology and have fun hanging out together!

 

Nurturing Creativity and Problem Solving at Home

“Children-must-be-taught-how-to-think-not-what-to-think.”-Margaret-MeadIt’s a fact.  Creativity fuels the ability to problem-solve, innovate, and explore new and unfamiliar areas. We experience this every single time we play-test Story Craze, the crazy story game.

Some people consider creativity that of being a painter or writer or dancer.  “Oh, she’s so creative!” Yet, creative thinking is inside every single one of us from the minute we are born. It is the ability to think in unusual ways. It is a kind of rational thought that is called divergent thinking. And as it suggests, the thought diverges in different directions or branches off into multiple solutions or answers to questions or problem. 

As an example, what are all the things you can do with a paper-clip? Most people can come up with a few, but highly divergent thinkers can come up with hundreds. And we believe that children are among some of the most highly divergent thinkers around because their minds are open to thinking in all sorts of directions. You know those kids with the endless questions of why? or how? or how come?

Yet studies show that over the past few decades childrens‘ creativity has tended to decrease with age. According to aboutkidshealth.ca, there is a decline that is most significant from kindergarten to third grade. They say it is due to the increase in standardized tests which stress conventional thinking skills that are focused on one idea or correct solution (convergent thinking). So, as a consequence, there seems to be less and less divergent thinking in the classroom.

There are things a parent can do to nurture creativity in your child, especially at home.  Most importantly, value creativity. Kids value what their parent’s value. So if a parent supports and encourages a painting or story or a different solution to a problem, that shows a child that they value their creativity and creative thoughts. Display art projects, attend artistic plays or shows, watch innovative TV shows. 

According to aboutkidshealth.ca, another way to value creativity is to model it. Everyday creativity can be as simple as rearranging furniture or having new ideas for dinner or vacations. Make creativity accessible for your child: if your child enjoys drawing, leave art supplies around. By modeling new ideas and perspectives, children learn how to think and behave creatively.

Give your kids opportunities to be self-expressive, autonomous, and original. Let them generate their own ideas and explanations for things. This helps nurture self-expression, which is a key part of learning to take more intellectual risks. Simple activities indoors and outdoors can help too. For instance, let children explore what the naked eye can’t see by using a magnifying glass throughout the home. Promote unstructured playtime outdoors. Studies show that exposure to nature will boost creativity and the desire to explore new things.

Reward creative behavior and original self-expression in your child. Rewards do not have to be material. Instead, use reward as an opportunity to bond with your child. For instance, spend 15 or 20 minutes reading their favorite book to them, or playing together with their favorite toy. If you choose to reward your child with a small treat, do it within reason. When your child is intrinsically motivated to be creative, rewards can be a distraction. They can cause a child to easily forget they were doing something because they enjoyed it.

Being positive about learning from mistakes in a playful manner is good!  Remind your child it is OK to make mistakes. Encourage them to think outside the box, explore, and make lots of mistakes. Doing this sparks the imagination and fosters the desire to discover. 

ABOUT 

Jen editedJan2016_O2A9648Ellen Stebbins and Marcie Jacobs are the founders of StoryClub Games, where imaginations run wild! Our products create experiences where people connect and get to know one another better, stretch their imaginations and have loads of fun. 

Our newest game, STORY CRAZE, is live on Kickstarter at www.storycraze.com. It’s the hilarious game that sparks imagination, creativity, and conversation in children to make up crazy stories. Developed with kids, it’s play-tested and kid approved! STORY CRAZE uses random PEOPLE, PLACES, and THINGS cards as cues to ignite outside-the-box thinking to make up outrageously funny stories. Kids UNPLUG from technology and have fun hanging out together!