Gamification is when you take something, that might otherwise feel like hard work or a chore, and make it seem like a game.

You could introduce an element of competition or a score board. Maybe a reward for winning.

Turning something into a game often has the effect of grabbing people’s interest and engaging them in a way they might not otherwise have been.

Many big companies have clocked onto this.

Often I use a cashback site when I buy things online.*

When I know I am going to buy something or change providers for bills or insurance I go on the cashback site first. I search for the company I am buying from and click through to them. Then I receive a percentage cashback that I can transfer into vouchers or cash.

Each season they run a competition where you have hunt for a hummingbird on the site using clues. If found you can win cash.

Inevitably I end up far longer on the cashback site than I would otherwise, hunting down the elusive hummingbird.

Gamification draws us in.

My husband (Michael) often comes up with ways of turning things into a game for our boys.

Struggling up a hill after a long walk? How about a game of hide and seek?

One boy ran ahead to hide and then the other searched him out. (This probably only works in a wood…)

Struggling to wait patiently for dinner to arrive on the table, or finish some milk? Why not a drinking game?

“If anyone has the letter T in their name take a sip of your drink”.

This game worked so well with my four year old – who has always struggled to drink his milk in less than 30 minutes – that I employ it most days now.

Whilst I appreciate how effective this strategy is, personally I usually lack the creativity and energy to employ it.

By the time my kids are tired and struggling, generally, I am too – coming up with a fun game at this point is no easy feat!

(Note to self: make a list of games to play when I’m not tired that I can use in such moments.)

One thing I can do though is make a chart.

Recently my third son was potty training. We got out the trusted reward stickers. One sticker for a number 1 and three for a number 2!

Once he had his first 10 stickers he got to go to the shop and choose any treat he wanted.

Thankfully he is easily pleased and opted for a 90p bag of marshmallows. (Mind you there aren’t many particularly expensive options in Tesco Express.)

It is a well established norm to reward potty training. But with so many other things it can feel like bribery.

At the beginning of this year I was having a really hard time with our eldest. He is a very intelligent and capable boy, but he can be dreadfully lazy.

It was like squeezing blood from a stone to try and get him to write a few words down.

I was beginning to dread doing school work with him. Often it would be laborious and time consuming. It was causing friction in our relationship and reducing the time and energy I had for the other children.

In all honestly, it was so bad that I was beginning to doubt that home-schooling was for us.

One day I said “if you finish quickly you can have a chocolate”. Suddenly he raced through his work, getting it completed in no time at all and without complaints!

I couldn’t believe it. In a way I felt even more frustrated, because now I knew (just as I suspected) he was fully capable of doing the work!

The next day, without the allure of chocolate he was back to his usual self.

I spoke to Michael about it, and what did he suggest? Gamification!

At first it felt like bribery to give our son a reward simply for doing school work.

But actually we are all motivated by rewards. Adults work all day long – generally, not just for the joy of working but because they are getting paid for it.

In the Bible we are told that even Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him”.

So I made up a chart. Each day the children do their school work without complaining they get a sticker.

Once they have 10 stickers, they get a reward. They have been told that this reward will be school related – for example a book (and this still motivates them).

I cannot tell you what a transformation this has made to our school day.

Our eldest now gets out his English and Maths books and completes his work quickly with almost no complaints. Dare I say it, he even looks as though he enjoys it!

It is amazing what a little incentive can do!

My next chart will be a tidying up one I think…


Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden

For their first reward I bought the kids some caterpillars and we watched them transform into butterflies.

Initially, I saw the butterfly garden on Groupon. You can also get it from Argos. I found it cheapest on Ebay however.

The box comes with a butterfly house and a voucher for caterpillars.

We sent off for the caterpillars (you have to pay £2.99 additional postage at this stage).

The caterpillars arrived in a small cardboard box.

We took them out and watched them eat, grow and eventually transform into butterflies.

It’s been a great way to see and understand the life-cycles of insects.

I have ordered some prints of the caterpillars at different stages, so the boys can put together a photo album showing the different stages our caterpillars went through.

We also looked at some butterfly books, like the ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and did a simple butterfly craft.


I had the kids paint one half of the butterfly then fold over the paper while the paint was still wet to make an identical print on the other side. 

*I have used Topcashback for nearly 6 years. In that time I’ve earnt over £850 cashback just by clicking through their site before making my usual purchases. I have found them very reliable. If you think it will be useful, please follow this link and sign up. I will receive a £5 referral once you’ve earnt your first £10. Proceeds will go toward the cost of running the blog!

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One Reply to “Gamification”

  1. A lovely post. I like the name for the process, ‘gamification’! Tried and tested and fully agree 😊

    I’ve signed up for the account.. a little unsure of it and how much I’ll use it as I think most online shopping I do is through Amazon which I don’t think offers cash back, but wish I’d known sooner as we’ve just switched internet provider – I will know for next time, thank you!

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