Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stories, Not Data at Heart of Human Motivation

Recently, the Vancouver Sun ran a story under this title describing how stories are really at the heart of human motivation, much more than data. Stories have the essential quality of being able tap into the emotional "root system" that drives all of us. At Think-a-lot Toys, this is music to our ears.

As the author of the article points out, "The work of the great mythologist Joseph Campbell demonstrated that human beings the world over are wired to respond to storytelling. This is because we are emotional, meaning-making creatures first, and what stir us are efforts and opportunities that capture our imagination." Stories, it seems, drive us and have driven us for centuries. And the better we get at telling stories--and listening to the wisdom of others' stories--the better we become at motivating not only ourselves but others.

In fact, the former CEO of Sony Pictures, Peter Guber, has just come out with a new book titled "Tell to Win"and in it he shares that a lifetime of refining his own storytelling ability has accounted for the lion's share of his success. He shares how he motivated people first through their heart or gut and then followed up with the reasons to act. And, framing his vision through stories were key to his success.

What this tells me is that storytelling is an important art that we need to nurture throughout life. Whether we are regaling others with our humorous or heartbreaking stories of daily life or we are sharing the deeper stories of our own hero's journey, it is important to remember that storytelling is more important than data, just as imagination is more important than knowledge.

Albert Einstein captured this well when he said that "not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."

For the full version of this story by Juma Wood, visit

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More Ways to Use Think-ets

Think-ets are great for telling stories. They are also great for playing memory games or the strategy game, "Who's Last?"

But one enthusiastic player wrote in with all the ways she can think of to use Think-ets in addition to the games we list. These will surely stimulate creativity, critical thinking and who knows what else. Thanks to Diane Black!


1) Make up a themed story (school story, story featuring a particular person--real or not, camping story, Halloween story, birthday story, fun variation on a book or movie already known, etc)... each person could also take a turn at declaring the theme (e.g. declaring trumps)

2) Sounds: order items by initial sounds or by ending sounds, or alphabetically, or by number of syllables... or voice the sound that each makes, or "could" make

3) Language: give a verb (or adjective, or proper noun) relating to each item... put items down by "sentence" or by "paragraph" to separate and begin to get concept of organizing speech/writing

4) Visual: sort by color/etc. attributes: (darkest to lightest... solid color vs. pattern... palest to most saturated colors.... same color or same color familiy... as "color wheel")

5) Sort by size ...sort by shape--perhaps least amount of "stick-out-ness"... make solid shapes with lines/columns --e.g., lines of rows to make a square or rectangle shape

6) Make a circle/triangle/square/diagonal/radius, etc., outline with the items

7) Nest objects as close together as possible (leaving least amt of empty space), like puzzle pieces
...pick one object up without moving others (like pickup sticks)

8) Use tweezers, chopsticks, etc. to pick up ...then perhaps immediately stack, or toss into a circle, magazine, piece of clothing, or pouch/bag, etc.

9) Add other objects to the 15... e.g., a number of the same items like rocks or beans, then use those as another object (3-D mountain) or as a path, or an outline of scenery feature (like a corral or map)... or add various objects one might find around the house, or could make

10) Add a piece of aluminum foil to the 15 objects --it can be scrunched or bent to make all kinds of shapes, requires no glue, and can be torn into more pieces ...plain paper can also be twisted or bent into various shapes

11) Make a tunnel or an arch from twisted paper/foil or anything around, then try to flip objects through it (like playing marbles), or put objects on a tilted surface then try to slide them through....... or make ramps and jumps of various kinds for objects

12) Draw a scene to go with the story as it's made up, or for the story to conform to... or draw something for each object to sit in, etc., or that relates to it

13) Draw a path on paper or napkin at a restaurant (possibly with obstacles or other things), then move object inside path without touching edges of path or obstacles ...or have the drawn objects be part of story... or make a regular game with a drawn "board" by using other scraps of paper/etc as indicators of the # of spaces to move (or could have stop-for-one-turn, or jump-ahead-six or similar icon marked on path ...or use a die or a spinner or draw straws, etc., or add something like rock/scissors/paper, to decide how many objects to use for a round of play)

14) Or instead of drawing on something temporary, at home make a more permanent "board" or scene by gluing (onto cardboard or something a bit stiff) string or yarn as paths, wads of green paper for bushes, tunnels, etc.... if make the board or scene in a shallow box, can be covered and taken with pouch when not at home

15) To avoid having a "winner," avoiding having an
end if there's a path...and/or just play for a certain amount of time, or until players want to move on to something else.

OK, then. Go get busy!