“Key to the Front Door”
Key to the Front Door – Educational and Fun too by TOYSBULLETIN.COM
ToysBulletin.com looks at a new board game from Debra Avara.
While wandering the aisles at the recent New York Toy Fair, we met Debra Avara, an Assistant Professor at Amarillo College where she teaches Sociology. She was promoting a new game she had designed to teach kids all about how to cope with living like an adult. Since it is highly probable that many of today’s teens might find themselves out on their own after high school graduation, Debra felt there was a real need to explain the realities facing young adults starting out with a new job, an unfurnished apartment and lots of bills. She had already successfully presented her ideas in numerous books and seminars, and the thought of learning from a board game seemed like the next logical step. So, she created “Key to the Front Door,” which is kind of a hi-octane version of the board games “Life,” and “Monopoly.”
The game contents include 8 player pawns, 8 garage sales tokens, 2 dice, a deck of 25 Key cards, play money ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100 bills), numerous budget/inventory worksheets, a large game board measuring 24? x 24? and a set of rules. To set things up, each player receives a player pawn, $500, 1 garage sale token and 1 budget/inventory sheet. Each player also needs 3 small envelopes and a pencil or pen (not included). The envelopes are labeled “Vacation Savings,” Emergency Savings” and “College/Retirement Savings.” Each player must immediately deposit $25 in each of the three envelopes and will have to add an additional $10 to each one every time he circles the game board.
The object of the game is to be the first player to purchase all of the “need” items on your inventory list, or if everyone goes broke before that happens, the player who has accumulated the most “need” items is declared the winner. It should be noted that the “need” items include the types of things needed to furnish an apartment, including chairs, couch, bed, TV, pots & pans, towels and many others. At the same time, players may also want to purchase some “want” items like pictures, plants, a camera, shelving and lots of other stuff. All of the available items are listed on the inventory sheet.
To begin play, all player pawns are placed on the “Start Here” square on the game board. The board winds around a total of 80 spaces. There are also some bridges which slow down a player’s progress and a few rivers, which speed things up. Players alternate turns by rolling one die and moving down the path. Once a player has landed on a space, the player must follow the instructions on the space. There are spaces that require a player to pay a bill, like water, cell phone or car payment, and also spaces that reward a player with work bonuses, birthday money etc. Remember, each player does have a job, so each time a player lands on or passes a “Pay Day” space, he collects $125, but the player also has to pay his apartment rent of $425 each time he circles the board. There are also lots of chances on the board spaces to purchase one or more items on a player’s inventory list. The cost of all items, both “needs” and “wants,” is listed on the inventory list. The choice belongs to the player. If a player would happen to land on a space with a golden Key on it, he must draw one of the Key cards, and follow the instructions on the card. Most of the cards involve buying decisions such as whether to buy a new cell phone or keep the old one, or whether to borrow a book from the library or just buy it.
If during the game, a player cannot pay a bill or his rent, he can use his 1 garage sale token (one time only) to sell any or all of the items he has purchased on his inventory list. Unfortunately, the player only gets garage sale prices for his items, which are substantially less than what he paid for them. But that is life, right? He does get to the stay in the game if he raises enough money to pay his bills.
There are several more detailed rules, but that is the game in a nutshell. The Toys Bulletin staff played “Key to the Front Door” numerous times over about a 7 day period. It even provided some educational insights to many of us, as the game was quick to point out that budgeting and planning are crucial ingredients leading to financial independence and a successful life. This is a great learning tool for families and certainly in the classroom.
Fall 2015 Academics’ Choice Brain Toy Award
Key to the Front Door is an educational, reality money game. Appropriate for ages 8 up, life skills classes, and is currently in elementary, and high school teaching required financial literacy class. The game teaches budgets, savings, charity, wants vs. needs, practical shopping, responsible paying of bills, decision making, and much more. The goal of the game is to furnish your apartment while you continue to pay your bills and navigate the decisions and choices in the form of ‘key cards’. Everyone can learn through play! Patent Pending. – See more at: https://www.academicschoice.com/games/key-to-the-front-door.php#sthash.MfJEWoM2.dpuf
Key to the Front Door was a good supplement to the Personal Finance course that my daughter recently finished. The game introduces students to the “envelope system” of money management, rewards responsible financial choices, and provides extensive practice in recording income and expenses, since all purchases or income must be recorded. Students learn that they can save a lot of money with garage sales, thrift stores, and sales, rather than paying full price. – See more at: https://www.academicschoice.com/games/key-to-the-front-door.php#sthash.MfJEWoM2.dpuf
I love to see learning opportunities in game format. My daughter hasn’t had much practice actually recording income and expenses in real life, but after just one play through of the game, I feel confident that she will be able to balance a checkbook or keep up with a budget. She loved the game, even though it required her to do math on every turn, and I’m sure we will continue to play it. – See more at: https://www.academicschoice.com/games/key-to-the-front-door.php#sthash.MfJEWoM2.dpuf
Balancing a checkbook is a skill that is often overlooked so it was nice that it was incorporated into a game. One of the key cards had all the players to use a local grocery store ad and make a grocery list for two days worth of meals and calculate the expense. The game was very engaging and I think it most accurately portrayed real life financial situations. I appreciate that there are options to purchase items at garage sale/thrift store and not just retail since that practice teaches one to live within a tighter budget. My entire family enjoyed the game. Being able to understand finances is one of the most important basic skills a person should master before moving out and becoming independent, yet it is the least taught skill. This game provides great opportunity to learn how to budget while still providing an element of fun and competition. – See more at: https://www.academicschoice.com/games/key-to-the-front-door.php#sthash.MfJEWoM2.dpuf
Mensa Game Competitor
Creative Child 2015 Educational Game of the Year
“Key To The Front Door” is a WINNER of a 2015 Family Choice Award!
The “Family Choice Awards” recognize the best in children’s and parenting products. Now in it’s 20th year, the “Family Choice Award” is one of the most coveted, family friendly consumer award programs in the nation. Your award serves as our recommendation to families and grants you permission to proudly display the award logo on your marketing materials, packaging, social media and any other medium you desire.
We want to convey our gratitude and recognition for producing an extraordinary product that makes a positive difference in the lives of our families.
Family Review Center Best of the Year – “Key to the Front Door”:
For Immediate Release – December 18, 2014 – Phoenix, Arizona
Key To The Front Door is a game that works as a hands on and visual aid in teaching the money skills our youth need to learn budgeting and finances for independent living as adults.
Key to the Front Door is like a lesson package in a game format. The game strives to help teach responsible financial planning and budgeting, to help teach our children to be successful when they leave home. From grade 4 and up, children will play this game with success and enjoy learning in a fun way, exploring concepts and principles that may be new to them but are vital to surviving the real world. In this game they must get a house and furnish it, pay their bills and not run broke. Perhaps this would be a good game to play in pre marital counseling to be sure we have it all down before we embark on our future in the unknown (smiles).
A fun game, that will be enjoyed by children and adults.
Translation packets are available to make this game bilingual! Check their site for details.
This game has been added to our Special Needs and Disabilities category because it holds value for those who learn best with a hands on and visual approach.
Family Review Center Best of the Year – “Key to the Front Door” info:
For Immediate Release – December 18, 2014 – Phoenix, Arizona
Family Review & Award Center [familyreviewcenter.com] annually awards the best of the best with the Best Of The Year Award, from the multiple reviews they conduct each and every year since 2000. This award is granted only to those companies that have products worthy of such an honor, by being well made, well priced and well placed within the marketplace to be a help to American families. The Best Of The Year Award is granted to those products that the Family Review Center Panel of Judges feel meet the rigid criteria set forth to ensure the products represented are those that are of great value to those within their sphere of influence and reach.
Ann Simpson of www.homeschool.com – “My Money” info:
This too, is an exceptional book for the following reasons:
- First, I think the title is great. Every kid that reads this will realize that s/he is someone exceptional.
- It’s aimed at older children and so it takes on more complicated subjects (what is a 401K vs. a Roth IRA, how does compound interest work, etc.), and the book explains them VERY well!
- The section on paychecks and W2’s is great, as are the “Other Expenses” associated with car ownership.
- The section on buying a house is very thorough.
- It’s perfect for teaching life skills.
- The book is offered at a very affordable price.
- The book is available in English and Spanish.
Again, the book is Core Curriculum and TEKS aligned but don’t let that deter you–it’s a great resource. And as homeschoolers, you can always go beyond the Core.
Ann Simpson of www.homeschool.com – “Bella Buys a Big Blue Bike” info:
Deb Avara is the author of exceptional money management books for kids, and she has just added a money management/life skills game to her list of available products. Following are reviews for two of her books, and her recent game.
I LOVE this book. Some of my reasons are:
- It’s aimed at young students (K-2, but I believe it’s good for up to 4th graders).
- It’s relatable to the target audience. What kid doesn’t want a new bike?
- It has really charming pictures that kids will enjoy (parents will too).
- I LOVE many of the activities contained in the book. For instance, in Chapter 4, kids research different jobs, and google child entrepreneurs.
- The book contains student worksheets where kids are given different scenarios, while being encouraged to do more…maybe think outside the obvious box.
- Kids are asked, what will the profit be in different scenarios. They have to evaluate, and again, really think about things.
- The section on charity is SO good! Even though Bella wants her bike, she wants to help the food bank too. She learns how her decision will affect the timeframe of her purchase (spoiler alert—she still gets the bike—so you can do good while saving for something big). And the activities associated with the charity chapter encourage kids to help others.
- After getting her bike, Bella realizes she can still work her neighborhood jobs…..and her brother realizes he might want to get off the couch and get to work too.
- The book is offered at a very affordable price.
- The book is available in English and Spanish.
The book is Core Curriculum and TEKS aligned but don’t let that deter you–it’s a GREAT book. And as homeschoolers, you can always go beyond the Core.
Ann Simpson of www.homeshool.com – “Key to the Front Door”:
What I particularly like about this game—
The board piece is made of sturdy material.The Key cards are cute and educational. Examples include 1) Make a grocery list for 2 days. Use store flyer to price. After you make the list, forward two spaces. 2) Neighbor asks you to dog sit. Do you do it? Yes—collect $10. No—collect $0. 3) Shop with friends, find sun glasses you love! Not on sale. Buy them or wait for a sale? Wait—go ahead 3 spaces. Don’t wait—pay $30. (The only thing missing from this last scenario, is “Do you really love them enough to pay full price? Will you still be thinking of them tomorrow? Will you end up going back for them, requiring extra time and money to do so?) That’s how I sometimes judge a purchase….but that’s in real life….not a game, and
I certainly understand that EVERY scenario can’t be accounted for. Because of this, the game allows parents an opportunity to add their input, to add their “two cents”, so to speak…to use the game as a discussion point. I really like that! The board spaces are certainly relevant. Players have to pay for their laundry, cable bill, a new tire for their car (this teaches kids that cars cost more than the payment, insurance, and gas), personal care items (I like that personal care items are $40, not a lesser amount), etc.
Players have to go backwards on the board if they do things they shouldn’t (for instance, if they use a debit card without writing the transaction down) This game has won a number of awards including the Tilly Wig Brain Child Award, and from the Family Review Center—their Gold Award, Best of the Year, Editor’s Choice
and their Seal of Approval. All of the money management products reviewed are worthwhile products—and they’re perfect for home and homeschool use. I like every one of them!
Tillywig Toy & Media – “Key to the Front Door”:
Several parents present during the testing of this game mentioned how ill-prepared they had been to manage their money as young adults. Key To The Front Door deals with precisely that – making good choices about money. Each player starts with $500.00. While moving around the board on rolls of the dice, bills must be paid, necessities purchased, and financial decisions made at practically every turn. Rent is due each time around, and savings must be put aside, with additional expenses triggered by various spaces and cards. Pay Day spaces occur fairly frequently and provide income, but even so, the money goes quickly. Besting your opponents means either purchasing more basic household items than they have or simply outlasting them (anyone who can’t pay their bills is out of the game). Budgeting, watching your dollars, focusing on needs instead of wants, and buying items on sale leads to success. With lots of playful twists and turns sprinkled throughout, Key To The Front Door manages to be both fast-moving fun and a remarkably good preparation for real life.
PCHEA (Panhandle Christian Home Educators Association) Forum for families – “Key to the Front Door”:
Looking for a fun way to teach economics, budgeting, and money management to middle school and high school students? A dear friend of ours has developed a fun board game that does all of that, called Key to the Front Door. Deb Avara is an Assistant Professor of Sociology, right here at Amarillo College, and already her game has won numerous awards. Our family played it, and our 12 year old son loved it! (The game says it is for ages 8 and up)
The game has won the Tilly Wig Brain Child Award, and Family Review’s Seal of Approval, Best of the Year, Editors Choice, and Gold Award.
Posted by Ray & Season Craven
Lekotek (A division of Anixter center) – “Key to the Front Door”:
Thank you again for submitting to AblePlay—our families and professionals really enjoyed the chance to engage with your game. Our therapists were really intrigued by the life skills taught throughout game play. The game was rated high for social/emotional, cognitive and communicative skills.