A new challenger has appeared in the fight against childhood obesity! LunchBox Kids, a health and fitness board game for children, is getting kids up and moving while learning about health at the same time.
“This game empowers children on all levels because it reaches out to them through fantasy and inspiration disguised through a game,” said Liz Northcutt, a PreventObesity.net Leader. Liz developed the game with her husband Bryan and their children, Hailey and Kaius, as a way to teach kids nutrition and show them that it can be fun to exercise.
LunchBox Kids has been several years in the making. The first version was created using poster board, clipart and other various items.
“Over the next two years we just played the game at home to refine it and work on the gameplay, rules and 400 health and fitness pop quiz questions,” she says. “When my children would have sleepovers, the kids would pull out the poster board game and begin playing. I realized that they really loved playing the game, and the kids begged me to continue to develop it.”
The game kept evolving and was truly a family effort. One morning Liz found her son doing exercises in the living room. “I laughed and said ‘Kaius what are you doing?’, he said, ‘I'm doing the LunchBox workout!’ I realized he was doing all the exercises he learned from playing the game, but as a circuit during commercial breaks from watching cartoons,” she says. And that’s how they decided to include a workout poster with the game.
Since the original poster board version, the game has gone through multiple iterations. For the second version, they covered an old Sorry! game board with the layout of LunchBox Kids. With hand-written cards and an old computer-box case, this version was ready for play-testing at Lago Vista Elementary, where their daughter was in school.
With a blessing from the principals, who loved the game, Liz introduced it to a new group of children. “The kids loved it so much that even the children watching along joined in when an exercise challenge was being performed,” says Liz.
After a few more tweaks, the game is now in its final form. Players roll dice to move around a Monopoly-style board, landing on squares that correspond to different tasks. For example, a player may have to do jumping jacks or answer a trivia question.
Throughout the game, players gain “Golden Tickets.” At the end, the player with the most Golden Tickets who is closest to their starting square becomes the Coach, and leads the other players in an exercise challenge, which could be anything from jumping jacks to push-ups.
The game also teaches children about health and nutrition through Snack Cards, which feature interesting facts about food such as, “Eggs have choline which is good for your brain’s mental function and memory,” and “Lemon is high in Vitamin C which helps keep your immune system strong!,” and a series of trivia questions based on food, science and interesting facts. These questions range from easier (question 1) to more difficult (question 2):
1: A healthy way to eat is to have mostly what?
a) A lot of processed foods.
b) Very little processed foods.
2: Insulin is a hormone released in your blood that helps transport what into your cells?
The game has already been well received. LunchBox is the first health and fitness board game to earn a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It has also earned a few awards, including the National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval, Dr. Toy’s Top 10 Games, and being named to the Top 14 products for 2014 by AfterSchool Today magazine.
Schools and other child-friendly institutions have been one of the biggest supporters of the game so far, with groups from Texas to New Zealand ordering copies for kids to use during regular class, physical education and recess. “Currently our game is being used in over 200 elementary schools and counting,” Liz notes.
In addition to the game, downloadable teaching resources such as a food chart, lesson plans, crossword puzzles and coloring pages are available to supplement the gameplay and keep kids involved.
For more information, visit their website.