Back in 2010, fellow GeekDad contributor Jonathan Liu introduced readers to the Boom Boom Cards, a deck of cards with goodwill actions and tasks that encourage you to perform the good deed on a card and then leave the card for someone else to find (or give it to someone). Cards had suggestions such as buy a stranger a cup of coffee (done that!) or write a letter to a teacher who inspired you. There are twenty-seven cards in the original deck, a month’s worth of actions to perform to make your little corner of the world a better place.
But the folks at Boom Boom Cards didn’t stop with that original deck… they’ve since created additional decks with various themes (such as the Teen Deck or the Green Deck). The one I’ve been enjoying with my 5-year-old son is the Family Deck. It has another 27 cards (plus a few blanks ones for creating your own special tasks) with some great inspirational actions to perform, but it has some additional features that are perfect for a family with young kids.
First, the Family Deck comes in a box that unfolds to create a small game-like board. Each card is numbered, and when a card is completed your child can put an exclamation mark sticker on its matching game board box to indicate it’s been completed. The box also comes with some double-sided tape that allows you to create two small pockets on the game board that hold Discussion cards. Each Discussion card is numbered — on one side (blue) is a more complex question or discussion starter that is perfect for older kids. The other side (white) has simpler discussion ideas or questions for younger children. The idea is that after completing a card, you pull the matching numbered Discussion card out at dinner time or maybe bed time and talk a little more about the action that was performed.
In addition to the game board, there’s also the online portion of Boom Boom Cards. After registering your deck (each deck has a unique identifying code), you’re provided with a control panel that displays all the cards in your deck with small gray thumbnails. Click on a thumbnail and you can view the card’s tasks on screen. After you complete a card, you select the card, provide a small blurb about your experience, maybe include a photo or video, and then pass the card on in whatever manner you wish. My son, Decker, for example, chose Card 2 which instructed him to send handmade cards to family members or friends — we had a great time visiting together over some cookies at Moe’s restaurant while he took his time to create four small cards. He sent cards to two different friends and one card to each set of grandparents. He chose to include Card 2 in the envelope to one of his friends, hoping to inspire him to create his own handmade cards and then pass the card on.
Should Decker’s friend choose to use the card, his mom or dad can go online as well and enter the code at the top of the card and provide their own details. Over time, as the card moves from person to person, the online site can provide a nice little journal of where the card has traveled. Now imagine 26 more cards, all left for someone or given away, and you can see the potential. That’s a LOT of possible goodwill and nice gestures building momentum.
At first, I thought about doing one card per day, but I’m really wanting to spread them out a bit more. Decker comes home now each day asking if we can do a Boom Boom Card. For him, at age 5, he’s just enjoying the activities with his dad, many of them hands-on projects. For me, however, I’m loving talking to him about what we’re doing… and why. We talk about our actions and who benefits from them. We talk about how we can involve his younger brother (age 2) and his mother. And, hopefully, we get some more father-son time that I believe is so important at this young age.
It might require some planning on a teacher’s part, but I could easily see a set of cards being integrated into a classroom of young kids. Each child could be given a card with one task and, when done, they can exchange that card for another one. You can just imagine a class full of young kids as they run home with their cards, anxious to finish a task that they know will make their world a little brighter! The deck would also make a great activity for church groups, after-school programs, and grandparents.
I’ve already got a card picked out for tomorrow — Card 13 has us baking some cookies, cake, or bread for a neighbor. I’ve purchased the cookie dough and we’re going to make them after school and take them next door. I’m looking forward to the time with my son as we talk about how much fun it is to do something nice for our neighbor. (As you can see, you don’t have to perform the tasks in any particular order.)
One final word about the cards — when you register a deck, Boom Boom Cards will also allow you to pick a charity that will receive 10% of the purchase price of the deck on your behalf. Quite a bit of good karma in one little deck of cards, don’t you think?