February 24, 2024
Making Faux Pas Fun
Aimee Symington, inventor of the Blunders game of manners, tells TDmonthly Magazine about her journey toward Toy Fair and why she should be selected to be part of our TOY FRENZY! documentary:
| “My husband and I raided our retirement, children’s college and emergency funds to invest in this dream of mine.” — Aimee Symington, Successful Kids
Does it really matter if children have proper table manners, answer the phone correctly, and say, “It’s nice to meet you,” when being introduced? It matters because polite children are more liked by peers and adults, and therefore more likely to be given opportunities throughout their lives. Manners teach us the rules of the game of life and make it easier for us to play.
As a parent of 7- and 4-year-olds, I know that teaching children nice behavior isn’t easy! I decided to draw on my 15 years of corporate experience in training and development and read every book on children’s etiquette I could find.
First, I created a 100-page children’s etiquette manual and instructor’s guide. Within a couple of months, I was delivering my “Successful Kids” children’s etiquette workshops.
NEED FOR “HOMEWORK”
Parents and educators asked me what they could do at home to reinforce what I had taught their children. I looked for something at the 2007 New York Toy Fair but didn’t find anything that I thought kids ages 5 to10 would like!
I left determined to develop the most fun and interesting board game to teach children manners and be at the Toy Fair in 2008!
My husband and I raided our retirement, children’s college and emergency funds to invest in this dream of mine.
BIRTH OF A BUNGLING FAMILY
Blunders™ would be a board game about four children: Becky (age 5), Brenda and Bobby (twins, age 7), and their brother Billy Blunder (age 9). Each child would be endearing and talented but would also have some bad manners.
The Blunder children would not understand how their actions caused others to judge them adversely. They would not understand how they could have more friends, do better in school, and have more opportunities if they would only have nicer manners and follow proper etiquette.
The object of the game would be for players to help the Blunders improve their social and dining etiquette skills as they interact with their family and people in their town, go to school, and play at the park.
As a full-time mom, I stole moments anywhere I could to work on the game. I wrote questions (wet ones) when my kids were in the pool, and late at night when they were in bed.
Progress was slow. Just as I was wondering if I could really pull this off, I read the book “The Secret.” I learned that we can achieve anything we truly believe in, and imagined myself talking about Blunders on “Oprah.” My positive attitude would be needed for the struggles ahead!
First, we realized our funds weren’t sufficient to produce enough games to make a profit. In three days, I put in 55 hours writing a business plan to attract investors and, thanks to my husband George’s enthusiastic salesmanship, two acquaintances signed on.
I created a prototype at the beginning of October and conducted several focus groups. The teachers and parents thought the game was amazing and the kids loved it, too!
Despite garbled electronic artwork that almost caused us to miss our printing deadline and the initial denial of our trademark on the name “Blunders,” we made all of our deadlines!
Toy Fair is now 33 days away. I don’t know what’s in store for us and for Blunders, but I still visualize myself talking to Oprah about my game being a success.
As a bonus, I am happy to report that even though I only have a small temporary page on TDmonthly’s website, I have already received several orders for Blunders. A New York toy-store retailer called me to say that after looking at all of the new products on the TDmonthly site, Blunders is the only game she feels that she “has to have” in her store!
If I can help even 100 children do better in school, have more friends, and learn the social graces and lessons that will help them for a lifetime, then my journey will have been worth it.
My team consists of:
– Graphic Designer and Illustrator – David Aspenlieder, friend
– Editor – Sarah Picot, friend
– Story Booklet Co-author – Larissa Vesdrevanis, sister-in-law
– Lawyer – Andrew Tolomizenko, friend
– Accountant – James Symington, father
– Public Relations Consultant – Cynthia Symington, mother
– My “Bit of Everything” Consultant – George Husk, husband
Blunders™ - Make Learning Manners Fun by SUCCESSFUL KIDS INC.
The adorable characters of Becky, Bobby, Brenda and Billy Blunder revolutionize the way manners are taught. The game includes a game board, a story book and 300 fun and interactive charade, multiple-choice, scenario and true/false questions covering social and dining etiquette. “Blunders™ is the only board game on the market today that makes learning manners interactive and fun!” Successful Kids Inc. President Aimee Symington told TDmonthly. This game has received the following awards: Dr. Toy, National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, iParenting Media, Creative Child Preferred Choice, Mr. Dad Seal of Approval, eChoice, and The Toy Man Award of Excellence and Seal of Approval. Launch date: February 17, 2008.
— "I've loved the Blunders Game from the moment I was introduced to it. Now you can reinforce manners at one of the places where manners are key. Manner Mats takes the blunders concept and turns it into a set of 38 table mats. The mats include tones of games including word searches, challenges, multiple choice, what is wrong with the picture, complete the sentence and many more. Another innovative way to teach manners without having to point your finger," Jennifer Shuman, owner of 1SmartNoodle, told TDmonthly at Toy Fair 2010.
Past videos: Toy Fair 2009 ( Watch Video) 11/27/2007 (MSRP: $24.95; Age: 5 to 10)
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