Games, Grandkids & the Supply Chain

As you and I know, the supply chain is like air. It is everywhere. We live in it and from it.

Kids understand getting things like toys and candy and other stuff that parents buy for them, but unless the parents take the time to talk about corn flakes and farmers and cereal companies, the kids just consume and move on and don’t learn a thing.

I think kids can be taught to understand the world in a different way through the lens of the supply chain. This grows out of a pet peeve of mine, which is that the elementary schools are not really preparing kids for the real world.

Give a person a fish…
My granddaughter asks me so many interesting questions about chemicals and why they put them in food if you can already eat the food when it comes out of the ground. I haven’t discussed GMOs with her yet, but I see that time coming soon.

It won’t be long before she is making independent decisions about what she will eat and wear.

Out of those questions emerged an idea for a supply-chain game and teaching tool. This game can grow with the child’s understanding and gives him or her an opportunity to ask questions that he or she never would have thought of previously.

By giving my granddaughter a background understanding of supply chain dynamics, I think she will end up making better economic and health-based decisions.

For example, she can say Materials , and I can respond “farming, forestry, and chemicals.” She can say Salesperson , and I can say “Mr. Idontcare” (the name and picture of a salesman for a manufacturer that puts out harmful products).

Teach a person to fish…
As the game progresses through Processes to final Products , she learns that Mr. Idontcare has used the forestry process to make paper, the farming to grow tobacco, and the chemicals to make hundreds of chemicals that are added to the tobacco to make cigarettes as the final Product .

She then tells me that she does not want to use her money to buy the cigarettes and Mr. Idontcare should not sell things that hurt people. We can turn this game session into a discussion of why cigarettes are bad for people and why they can continue to be sold.

In this way, the game becomes a learning tool instead of just saying to a child, “Don’t smoke cigarettes because they are bad for you.”

If children can gain an early sense of justice and health around supply chain issues, then their decisions in life on what to buy or participate in become much more informed, and it isn’t just answer to the “Why” that resolves itself into a parent’s offhanded response of “Because I told you so.”

The logistics part of the game has trucks, trains, and ocean-going freighters that have all kinds of difficulties getting the goods to the person who wants to buy them.

In introducing logistics, we introduce ideas of customs, duty, and freight, CIF that cost an extra penny over and above the 25 cents for the item being purchased and imported. Actually, with a stack of real pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, the child can make purchases and get change. This teaches them about rational exchanges using real money.

For an extra thrill, use Monopoly money and increase the Products to things like cars, boats, and homes. Each item is an opportunity to teach about greater details or intricacies involved in the supply chain. If you are going to buy a house, you have to pay the real estate person a commission. Negotiations are acceptable, and role playing is a natural outcome of the higher level transactions.

I've even considered a kid's version of classes teaching about the supply chain. In any event, we can all learn from looking at our world from different angles, can't we?

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12 comments on “Games, Grandkids & the Supply Chain

  1. Eldredge
    April 11, 2013

    Understanding the supply chain also helps us to understand how we depend on one another for goods and services. Such understanding also helps the entrepreneur recognize a need that needs to be filled.

  2. SP
    April 11, 2013

    Absoluely agreed. Pre-school kids are ready to explore and to ask questions. Something like this would be very interesting and new. Its very important for today's kids to see where the materials we consume come from and then take a decision. Because these days kids hardly have a nearby farm to see, villages have turned cities and these kids spend most of their time in day care as both parents work.

  3. dalexander
    April 11, 2013

    @SP… My granddaughter is always being given little gifts here and there and I hope to instill a sense of cost in terms of labor, the environment, and social implications. I know that teachers traditionally teach the three R's, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and I had a hard time with math because I couldn't see any connection to my real world. Sure, if I had three apples and I gave you one, I would have two left. That made sense, but I did not understand the value of things. I was not told that my tennis shoes were made by kids my age who did not get to go to bed or eat dinner without first making their daily quota. Or that my baseball cards were products of trees and how my marbles were made. Where graphite in my pencil was mined and processed. I am making sure that my granddaughter, who is becoming a prodigious consumer, has a sense of where her toys come from and the real cost associated thereby. It is a game where learning can become very fun and immediate, because it teaches about the world in its many forms of business, practices, and people.

  4. dalexander
    April 11, 2013

    @Eldredge…Can you expand on what you are saying about entrepreneur's recognizing needs? Can you give some examples?

    April 12, 2013

    I am glad to see you are thinking of the future needs of supply chain management.  If your Supplychainopoly game becomes a big hit then we will have great well educated leaders for the future.

  6. SP
    April 12, 2013

    Yes if the kids today are exposed to supply chain they will be more concerned individual when they grow up. Also they can be told about what happens when we consume them, like the pcakaging is it recyclable or not.

  7. dalexander
    April 12, 2013

    @Flyingscot…the game is just an idea that I am not marketing at present. I just wanted to make a point that kids need to understand as early as possible that their present choices will impact their futures in a myriad of ways. If they stop eating cereals with chemicals, the manufacturers will be forced to change their ingredients to healthier choices. As long as kids drink cokes with added phosphoric acid and mostly artificially flavors, then Coca Cola will still produce sugary, diabetic inducing flavors. We have a huge problem with childhood obesity and early child diabetics, but I do not expect Coke to step up and say that they will cease production of these drinks any more than the cigarette companies will change their deleterious and malicious practices. Parents and Grandparents need to give priority to this kind of education as much as they are giving to the 3 R's. The game grows with the child's understanding. And as the child grows, that understanding can become foundational to personal and corporate choices that will determine if this world will one day be manufacturing all of its food or will the practices change so that you will never have to say to your children, “once there were real strawberries”

  8. Anand
    April 13, 2013

    In this way, the game becomes a learning tool instead of just saying to a child, “Don't smoke cigarettes because they are bad for you.”

    @Douglas, I believe what you have suggested is very innovative and effective teaching tool. I am sure such innovative methods will help kids understand the different aspects about supply chain which will help them make right decision in their life. I really hope schools and colleges will build similar methods to teach all the kids about supply chain.

  9. dalexander
    April 14, 2013

    @anandvy…What do you think about an online entity like EBN, having a section on the supply chain where kids of all ages could blog and create a discussion about supply chain concerns impacting their lives.

  10. Mr. Roques
    April 24, 2013

    Very interesting. It's always nice to teach kids the value of money. This tool could do a great job at it. I recently went to a theme park for kids that made them “work” for tokens that they could later use in rides etc. My nieces really enjoyed it.

  11. itguyphil
    April 29, 2013

    Learning the meaning and value of economies is curcial nowadays. Especially since most adults can't manage it well.

  12. jacobfelixtamme
    November 8, 2018

    The only game that kids need is Overwatch! You can even bet on it and If you want to know how then just read More…. Believe me, your family will only benefit from you doing it. I only want to help you, don't be afraid.

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