Parents Invent Products Inspired by Their Kids

PHOTO: My Job Chart is an online chore chart and reward system that teaches children how to save, share and spend.
My Job Chart

I've always wanted to be an inventor. I've got dozens of ideas scribbled down and filed away. Every now and then one of "my" inventions actually appears in a store, and I kick myself that I didn't actually pursue it. Argh!

If I could be an inventor and impress my 6-year-old daughter, now that would be the ultimate. And it's exactly what a few moms and dads around the country have done. Since I haven't gotten my act together to be an inventor, let me tell you about some people who have.

PHOTO: Logo for Clued in Kids.
Clued in Kids
1.
Helen Bertelli, Inventor, CluedInKids.com

Helen invented treasure hunts for kids with premade clues that teach math, reading, logic and more. "Life is short, and you must do what you love," Helen said. "I started a business creating treasure hunts that inspire kids to learn, laugh and move in real space, not languish in front of a screen." When the kids solve a clue, it leads them to another and another until they reach the treasure at the end. What I love is that it takes parents only about five minutes to hide all the clues but it takes kids an hour or two to solve them. That keeps them engaged and active and, when necessary, out of your hair!

PHOTO: Logo for My Job Chart.
My Job Chart
2.
Gregg Murset, Inventor, MyJobChart.com

Gregg Murset invented a free, online chore chart for kids. Parents post their kids' chores, and when the kids do them they earn points. The parents can then convert those points into cash by depositing money into a savings account linked to the site. Once children have saved up enough money, MyJobChart links them to retail and charity sites, where they can spend or donate their money. Murset is a dad and a certified financial planner, so the way I see it, he's got two potential benefits here. His site is helping his own kids to become hard workers, and it can help all kids to become the sort of savvy savers who might actually have enough of a nest egg to need some financial planning some day.

PHOTO: Logo for Crunch a Color.
Crunch a Color
3.
Jennifer Tyler Lee, Inventor, CrunchAColor.com

This mom faced an almost universal problem: kids who only eat beige food. For her kids, the obsession was noodles. For mine, it's cereal. So Jennifer Tyler Lee invented a dinnertime game called "Crunch a Color" in which kids earn points for eating different colors of fruits and vegetables. A plain potato might be worth only five points, but a sweet potato snags 15 and so on. Trying a new food automatically doubles your points value, so suddenly kids have a new motivation to at least taste foods before declaring they hate them. Children can also earn points for such things as using nice manners and setting the table, so my daughter has a fighting chance to score points some way somehow.

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