Look No Further—Local Inventor Introduces Choropoly!
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“Do you ever wish your kid came with an owner’s manual?” This is a question that local inventor, Ken Manninen from Fond du Lac, WI asked himself a few years back. Raising kids comes with a unique set of challenges; each child is different and views the world from slightly different perspectives. Teaching kids the fundamentals of earning, spending, saving and the value of a dollar is always a challenge.
It was 2008, Manninen’s older son had just turned 10 and his younger son was 7. It was the beginning of the “Great Recession” when overspending and lack of saving was a common theme. He was looking for a fun and interactive way to teach his kids about earning, spending and helping out around the house. The search for a game, chore board or some system that could be easily implemented—that the kids could use for tracking points for doing chores—came up empty. Manninen remembers checking the web, hitting the big retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and the huge Toys-R-Us in Minneapolis and not finding what he wanted. Everything on the market involved stars and stickers for really little kids, but there was nothing appropriate for older kids that pulled together the components for teaching.
Manninen is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh with a degree in accounting. He recognized the need for a simplified accounting system that could teach his kids about saving. When he couldn’t find something, he decided he would make it himself and thus, “Choropoly” was born. His wife, Ronna is also a graduate of UW-Oshkosh with a degree in art, plus a degree in elementary education from Marian University. Ronna is an art and STEM teacher who has had a lot of input in the development and came up with the name. Manninen recalls, “Once I worked out the basic elements, I thought it was pretty slick! The first prototypes were kind of crude, but it got us past proof of concept. The kids were having fun and I was really surprised when they kept asking for more things to do to earn points”.
After several trial and error versions, Choropoly progressed into an interactive board with touch sensor buttons, LED lights and sounds. The board has a wet erase front face that is customizable for each child. The system is very easy to use and comes with instructions & suggestions to get started. The parents define the tasks for earnings, items to purchase and fines; the kids do the rest. With parental oversight, the kids record the points when they earn, purchase or get a fine. Points are tallied once a week and the learning begins as kids figure out how to save points and set long-term goals for jobs well done!
Choropoly is a new concept that is best suited for kids ages 5 and up. Manninen has received great feedback from parents who know about Choropoly. The biggest challenge is spreading the word. Word of mouth has been working pretty well as Choropoly is now in 12 states with essentially no advertising. At this time he wants to keep it small and manageable, so it’s OK for it to be a local secret for now. Now that his kids are 15 and 18, Manninen says, “The learning has continued for my boys. They have seen a product go from conception to the finished product and they even lend a hand in building the Choropoly boards. It has been a family project that will hopefully help other families in molding their children’s futures”.
For more information about Choropoly go to www.choropoly.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/choropoly.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]