Saturday, December 28, 2013

3 out of 4 of you won’t keep your new year’s resolutions, unless...

It’s that time of year again. Everyone you know will start talking about their “New Year’s Resolutions”.  With great intentions, everyone will make a list of what they plan to do that will make this year different than every year before it.  Be careful though, studies have shown that 3 out of every 4 people, yup that’s 75%, give up on their resolutions within three months!  If you don’t want 75% of your group to give up on their resolutions, read on for simple tips to help avoid falling into this trap.
Let me start by saying that I’m just like you.  Every new year I think about what will be different this coming year.  I’m excited by the prospect of positive change.  Sometimes I even write down 3-5 specific things I will do differently.  January is always a refreshing month.  For the first few weeks I make changes, and they work!  I feel great!  But then life catches up.  I fall behind on a project, or I get sick, or I get lazy one day, or I over-commit myself to too many responsibilities.  Ultimately, something happens and old habits start to resurface.  By March, I’m right back to where I started.So, how can we avoid this trap?  Simple, make your New Year’s Resolutions a team effort. Ever notice that going to the gym with a buddy is always more likely to happen?!  When you count on someone else AND someone else counts on you, you are much more likely to follow through! Here’s a simple 5 step process to Team New Year’s Resolutions you can follow:

Step 1: Pick your team
Anywhere from 2-4 people is suggested.  Can be family, co-workers, classmates, etc.
Step 2: Pick your resolutions
We suggest that you pick resolutions that you can all agree on.  We also suggest that you only pick 3-5 resolutions.
Here are some possible team resolutions you might consider:
·         Do something you love every day
·         Give each other positive feedback every day
·         Learn/Try something new together every week
·         Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
·         Tidy your {home, office, class} for 15 minutes every day
Step 3: Do it!
Once you’ve chosen your team resolutions, make a plan for implementation.  Trying to take on all of your resolutions at once may be too difficult.  Make a schedule and set goals.  Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).
Step 4: Hold each other accountable
This is the key step!  This is why so many people fail with resolutions.  It’s so easy to tell yourself that you will just go to the gym tomorrow instead (which in my experience never happens either!)  If everyone has the schedule and goals documented and you check in with each other regularly, you are far more likely to succeed.
Step 5: Stop waiting for the new year to get better!
Something we say a lot of at the Dynamix office is: “The day we stop trying to get better is the day we start getting worse.”  It always puzzles me that so many people are only going through this process once a year when New Year’s comes around.  It is critical that you and your team evaluate your progress and adjust your goals throughout the year.  What you thought might be best in January may no longer be relevant come May.  Start by setting 4 dates in the year that you will check in with your team and re-evaluate your resolutions.

Good luck to you and your ‘team’ in your quest to achieve excellence!

Written by: Mitch Zeltzer, December 2, 2013

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE GREATEST holiday gift on to find out what it is!

Are you looking for the PERFECT gift this holiday season?  Lately we've been hearing a whole lot about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. etc. sale after sale, results in tons of frantic shoppers looking for the BEST gift they can find for their loved ones. The stress of contending with packed shops and malls is nothing compared to the stress we put on ourselves to get our kids an amazing gift.
Well, what would you say if I told you that your efforts, while admirable, will be fruitless?  If you find yourself looking through catalogs or lining up at stores for the “in” toy this holiday season, you are going about it the wrong way!!!
Recently I read and shared a great article that talked about the Gift of Not Giving a Thing.  I loved what this article was all about.  If you haven’t read it yet, you should, but if you don’t have time, here’s a summary:  You don’t need to buy anything to give a great gift. The best gift you can give is your time. Long after your kids forget the stuff you got them, they will remember the stuff you did with them. 
But if you are like me, you also derive great joy in watching the excitement on your children’s faces as they unwrap those gifts!  So, what do we do?! Well, challenge yourself to give your kids gifts that have family time embedded in them.  A great example of this is actually something my mother-in-law did for my son for his recent birthday.  Instead of buying him a toy, she took him to a concert.  He not only loved the concert, but will forever remember that his grandmother was there to share in the experience with him. (Warning: bragging session about to begin) And, it wasn't just any concert it was a reunion concert for Sharon, Lois and Bram, who haven’t performed together in years! (If you’re curious to see what that looks like, have a look at the picture included!)
There are countless ways to embed family time into your gifts. 
Your son wants a new sled... give it to him with coupons he can exchange for rides down the hill with Mom and/or Dad on board.
Your daughter loves cars... get her a model car that you can build and paint together.
Your nephew wants to be a doctor when he grows up... give him a doctor kit and be his first patient.
The point here is that a toy is just stuff. Stuff is never enough, UNLESS you use the stuff to create opportunities to connect with the child. Get on his/her level, play with him/her, this is the GREATEST GIFT YOU CAN EVER GIVE!  Your time. Long after that stuff is broken, lost or forgotten about, the memories you created together will still be there.

Happy Holidays!

Written by: Mitch Zeltzer, December 2, 2013

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to Prepare Students for Jobs that Don’t Exist Yet

A recent report by the US Department of Labour revealed a startling statistic for educators and parents: 65% of current students will eventually be employed in jobs that haven’t been created yet. This finding obviously begs the question: how do we prepare our kids for a future we can’t even imagine?

21st Century Fluencies, a new educational philosophy currently embraced by the TCDSB, suggests that we need to focus on the development of social skills. This paradigm is based on the idea that children need critical and dynamic thinking skills in order to succeed in the new century. We need to ensure that our children are equally as fluent in collaboration and problem-solving as they are in English and Math.

Employers agree on the importance of these fluencies in the ever-changing workplace. The general feeling is that interpersonal skills will become even more important as technology progresses. According to a new study, 98% of employers look for communication skills and 92% look for teamwork skills when hiring new talent for the long-term. These social skills even outranked job-specific knowledge, work experience, and education!

Any language takes training and practice to master, and becoming fluent in these 21st century skills is no exception. Teambuilding and leadership programs are one of the most impactful and memorable ways to develop these fluencies. Hands-on activities that focus on group dynamics give your students a great opportunity to enhance their social skills in an educational environment. At Dynamix, we believe that the job market will always have room for creative and collaborative thinkers who can work well with others. Let us know how we can help prepare your kids for their future careers!

And please don’t forget to leave a comment below! What do you think of 21st Century Fluencies? What is most important when preparing our kids for future success?

Written by Shira Lurie, Toronto lead facilitator.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

R- E - S - P - E - C - T

Respect – An age old term parents and educators beg of children with exhaustive repetition. If only children were respectful, we probably wouldn't need rules. If children were respectful, they would walk in the hallways, be considerate of one another, keep their hands to themselves, listen when spoken to. In fact, if kids were respectful, every decision they make would be in consideration of their peers, adults and environment.

So, how do we get children to just be respectful? Let’s first consider the hours in a day trying to get children to behave the way we expect them to. It often involves bribery, arguments, debates, threats, negotiations and punishments. By doing this, are we, in fact, teaching children how to be respectful? Or are we simply controlling their behaviour and actions? Is a child respectful when they do something nice for someone to avoid punishment? The simplest and most effective way to teach respect is to be respectful. All too often, the very behavior we expect our children not to engage in is the behavior we use to control them. Yelling at a child is only effective if we expect our children to do the same. 

Consider your relationship with a police officer. If an officer stops you for rolling through a stop sign at a snail’s pace and then berates you for the infraction, how would you feel toward the officer? Would you feel respected? Would you feel you deserved to be berated? Now, imagine this happened on a regular basis. Imagine the frustration and sense of hopelessness you would feel in the presence of the very people you thought were there to help and protect you. Now, imagine you are to the kids what the officer is to you.

My grade 9 teacher epitomized what it means to teach respect. He was the only teacher who did not require students to ask permission to go to the washroom. Sounds crazy? Not only did we not require permission, we did not take advantage of his lenient class management style. We would go one at a time and return promptly. So, what was the secret? It’s simple. Respect. He modeled the behavior he expected from us. By respecting us – we, in turn, respected him. And by respecting him, we learned to respect others. So, with all the tricks in the bag, the foremost method of raising respectful and considerate children is by modelling the behaviour. Speak like you would like to be spoken to, when you say no to a child, provide a fair reason and remember to make sure they always know how much you care.

Written by: Corey Szwarcok, Dynamix Co-founder.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images, source:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Do It Yourself Teambuilding - Hippo

Activity Name: Hippo

Materials: Up to 10 soccer balls, 1 Hula Hoop per team

Setup: Spread the Hula Hoops out around your playing field as much as your space allows.  Set one Hula Hoop up for each team.  Start with players standing around their team's hoop with everyone in their team in a circle  holding hands.

Goal: To get as many soccer balls as you can in your team's hoop

How to play:
Teams start at their designated hula hoop.  As a team, they must travel while connected to each other in a circle.  Using only their feet, they must try to bring as many soccer balls back to their team's hoop as they can.

The rules:
- Players must hold hands with their teammates the entire time
- Teams can only take one ball at a time
- Players cannot steal a ball from another team
- Players cannot touch the balls with their hands

- Was the activity hard or easy? Why?
- Was it hard not to be able to use your hands?
- How did you use teamwork to get the balls to your hoop?
- How can we use a better strategy to get more balls next time?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Whether parenting or working with a large group of students, it is important we look at our own behaviour and the impact it has on our children’s actions. Although we may have the best of intentions, we inadvertently influence our children’s poor behaviour or negative choices. When dealing with a child who is misbehaving, it is easy to blame their environment, parents, friends or even nature. But by doing so, we are relinquishing all responsibility thus disabling us from making a difference. By owning the behaviour we are looking in a mirror and asking “What can I do to change the behaviour?”. Let’s look at 3 simple rules I like to remember when
working with children.

The first rule is “Set children up to succeed”. Imagine asking a child not to jump while standing on a trampoline or sit a group of children at a table for long period of time and ask them not to talk. Although children do have to learn to follow rules and “respect their elders”, they do have limits. Evaluating the likelihood of success before acting will create a more positive environment and prevent negative behaviour. By helping children to succeed, they learn success is possible and experience the intrinsic benefits which will leave them wanting more.

The second rule is “Be positive”. It may sound simple and perhaps obvious, but all too often we focus too much on negative behaviour rather than positive behaviour. Speaking negatively toward a child or

labeling a child will encourage the behaviour. Similarly, focusing on positive behaviour will encourage the behaviour to continue.

The third and final rule is “Connect with the child”. A relationship built on control will likely not give you

the results you seek. Nobody likes to be forced to do something. Have you ever tried to strap a child into a
car seat against their will? Connect with a child, build trust and respect and they will be willing to learn. By owning the behaviour we have the power to change the behaviour. Although it’s not easy, it’s amazing what we are capable of achieving. What are your rules?

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images, source:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Other important life skills that can be developed from Teamwork.

The piece of tape hung in the air, three feet from the ground. The small group of children stared at it.
“We have to get all of us over that? Without touching it!?” they exclaimed. All at once they burst into a number of conversations, each trying to speak over the other. The smallest among them stepped into the circle and quietly said to the rest; “I know how we could do this; but I need your help.” Slowly and patiently, he explained how it might work. Another child contributed her ideas and soon enough, they were all helping one another over the tape.
            Teamwork has always been an important social skill for children. As educational systems are adapting to include a larger component of group work, mirroring the work environment of today’s economy, now more than ever, children need exposure to team-building skills at a young age.
            Team-building and teamwork are integral life skills. Children stand to benefit from acquiring these skills; by learning how to work in a team they develop self-confidence and improve their communication skills. Working in a team setting, whether competitive (team sports) or recreational (after school programs, birthday parties etc.), children benefit from experiential learning by having a platform in which they can interact positively with one another. These benefits include:
  • Learning about leadership abilities
  • Practicing decision making processes
  • Improving communication skills
  • Developing conflict resolution methods
            Collective challenges are a great setting for bringing a group of children together by encouraging them to work together. A popular challenge for young children (that’s safe and fun to do at home) is to have a number of children stand on top of a durable fabric (a tarp, or old towel). There should be very little extra room around their feet. The challenge: flip the fabric onto its other side, without letting anyone’s feet touch the ground. Hint: Holding hands help. 

Written by: Gabriel Gosselin, Children’s Recreational Programmer

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images, source:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The 3 C’s of Education

Educational institutions around the world are seeing higher instances of bullying, aggression, hyperactivity and many other behavioural problems. In acknowledging these issues and remembering that we are preparing children for their future in society, is education that focuses heavily on academic subjects really substantial?
Looking at Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence, we see that the curriculum develops and caters to most of Gardner’s proposed realms of intelligence, be it Verbal, Mathematical and even Kinetic. Only what Gardner called Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligence is neglected (Gardner, 2011). These two realms of intellectual capability may be the key to preparing youth for a sound future. The 3 R’s, though not obsolete, need to be taught hand in hand with the 3 C’s: Character, Community and Choice. Educators
and parents alike should focus on building people of strong moral and ethical character, developing a sense of community and teaching the ability to make good choices.

Character—Encouraging children to question themselves, consider the consequences of their actions and understand certain universal values creates greater self-awareness, a greater awareness of others and more pro-social behaviour (Noddings, 2006). In today’s race to eradicate bullying, character education as a preventative measure operates under the philosophy that people with an awareness of their behaviour and the consequences of it will not take part in or tolerate behaviour like bullying.

Community—Instilling a “Social Spirit” is critical to creating active members, who feel a strong attachment to their community and understand the needs to contributing and building social structures (Montessori, 1914). Fostering collective ideals and giving students a chance to participate in the governance of their community not only provides them the ability to apply moral ideals and logical thinking, but empowers students to shape their world.

Choice—Children who feel like they can make choices will be more apt to engage in solving problems, rather than turning to learned helplessness. Giving children the ability to make choices about their own lives actually empowers them to step up and take responsibility. From this point, guidance can be given to help children make good choices. In other words, give them the forum while providing them with proper tools and the results will be positive.

The 3 C’s, Character, Community, and Choice, are not the only subject matter needed, but they should indeed be at the heart of the curriculum to produce children with just that; heart.

Sources Consulted
Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of Mind The theory of multiple intelligences. Philadelphia: Basic Books (original work published 1983)
Montessori, M. (1914). Dr. Montessori's own handbook. Frederick A. Stokes Company. Retrieved from
Noddings, Nel. (2006). Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Might Teach But Do Not. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 29 November 2011, from

Written by Amanda Preston, Dynamix Teambuilding Professional.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images, source:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Redefining Success: Wobbling Towards Excellence

Being a facilitator at Dynamix is a unique privilege.  First of all, it’s my job to play games all day.  It’s hard to beat that.  But my favourite part of facilitating is the lessons that come out of the games.  On the best days, the kids take home something new, and so do I. 

Let me share a story:

It’s about a team of accomplished teenage leaders.  They had cooperated solidly for the majority of our three-day retreat.  Their challenge, with me, was to make the Oreo, a humongous tire attached to yellow ropes, walk forwards.  They discovered a strategy in a matter of minutes.  Most groups had needed several rounds of trial and error.  I was extremely impressed.
But then, something happened.  The students noticed the wobbling of the tire, how it wasn't moving in a straight line, how it tilted slightly. They began to nit-pick, to adjust small things, trying to move the tire perfectly.  Within seconds, the team’s cohesion dissolved.  They criticized each other’s methods, barked orders at one another.  They even yelled at each other for not communicating properly.  I stopped the group. 
“Talk to me,” I said calmly.  “What’s going on?”
They began to list their mistakes:  Not enough listening. Not enough strategy.  Not enough using our resources.  Not enough.
And then, being experienced in the ways of leadership education, they preempted my next question: What do we do differently next time? There was no shortage of ideas for improvements. 
The team was in consensus: The Oreo challenge had been a flop.  But that’s not how it looked to an outside observer, like me.
“What did we do well?” I asked them.  No answers.
“How many of you think that we were successful today?” No hands.
“Does anyone remember what the goal of the challenge was?” Silence. 
Then, one student answered: “To get the Oreo to move.” 
“Exactly,” I said.  “And was the Oreo moving?”
A chorus of yes’s.
“Then were we successful?”
Some tentative nods.
“We did what we set out to do,” I reminded them.  “Can we take a moment to give ourselves a round applause for that?”
The conversation that followed was about the importance of celebrating our successes, however small.  It’s important to work towards excellence, but that doesn’t mean forgetting to acknowledge the fact that we’ve accomplished something.  The road to an optimal solution can be fraught with struggle and setbacks – these are good things, they help us learn.  But they can also be frustrating.  That’s why we have to stop to say, Was the oreo moving? To remind ourselves that, yes, it was.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Photo taken from Google Images, source: 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Benefits of a Positive Recess Environment

Everyday, elementary school children are given the opportunity to take a break from their schoolwork and go outside for recess. There are many benefits of allowing children to take recess breaks during school. From an educational perspective, children are found to be more attentive to academic work following recess and demonstrate improved cognitive performance on school related tasks (Pellegrini & Bohn, 2005). Recess can provide exercise and physical activity for children as a preventative measure for obesity (Barnett, O’Loughlin, Gauvin, Paradis, & Hanley, 2006). The social implications of recess are substantial and have a lasting effect on the developing child. Interacting with peers (rather than adults) at recess is a predictor of positive school achievement (Pellegrini & Smith, 1993), and the opportunities that exist for social interaction assist with developmental tasks—such as improved social skills and cooperative play—and building close relationships with peers (Pellegrini & Bohn). In general, recess behavior is a positive predictor of social cognitive development in children (Pellegrini & Smith). In addition to being proven in studies, teachers and parents often witness these positive outcomes of giving children a recess break during school.
Although recess time provides students with opportunities for positive growth, children don’t always necessarily receive these benefits. For many children, recess is not a time for positive social interaction or physical activity. It is important to keep children active and engaged on the schoolyard at recess and break times. Given the potential recess has for influencing the educational, cognitive, and social development of children, it is important that we take steps toward creating a positive recess environment that supports and encourages children to experience the benefits of recess time. Here are a few ways that peer-led, organized games on the schoolyard can help with this goal:
1.      Provides opportunities for inclusion and social interaction in play
Research on the benefits of peer interaction at recess suggests that peer-led games may be an excellent way of allowing children to engage in positive, meaningful interaction. Social skills and peer relationships often develop within the context of active, social games such as tag, soccer, and jump-rope (Pellegrini & Bohn).
2.      Provides structure in order to decrease opportunities for bullying
The elementary playground/schoolyard was found to be a school location where the highest frequency of bullying takes place (Vaillancourt et al., 2010). Organizing structured activities on the schoolyard may reduce bullying, as children are engaged in goal oriented, cooperative and, often, competitive tasks.

Let’s set our children up to succeed. If we do our part to create a positive recess environment, our children will thrive.

Barnett, T. A., O’Loughlin, J., Gauvin, L., Paradis, G., & Hanley, J. (2006).
Opportunitites for student physical activity in elementary schools: A cross-sectional survey of frequency and correlates. Health Education & Behavior, 33(2), 215-232.
Pellegrini, A. D. & Bohn, C. M. (2005). The role of recess in children’s cognitive
performance and school adjustment. Educational Research, 34, 13-19.
Pellegrini, A. D. & Smith, P. K. (1993). School recess: Implications for education and
development. Review of Educational Research, 63(1), 51-67.
Vaillancourt, T., Brittain, H., Bennett, L., Arnocky, S., Mc.Dougall, P., Hymel, S., …
Cummingham, L. (2010). Places to avoid: Population-based study of school reports of unsafe and high bullying areas at school. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 25(1), 40-54.

Written by: Shea Wood, Dynamix Montreal office.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.
Picture taken from Google Images, source:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Strong Teams Stick Together: A Lesson in Cooperation

"Cooperation" author Virginia Burden summarized, "is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there." At Dynamix, we have multiple activities centered on this principle; games designed to encourage our students to move as one unit and arrive at their goal together. These are my favourite types of games because you can see group-consciousness forming in young minds right before your eyes. A child who loves being the fastest runner in her class, for example, decides to slow down so that her team can move at a more careful pace - an especially important choice as her team is trying to carry a pyramid of cups balanced on a board while only holding its strings! (It is as cool as it sounds - request 'Pyramid Insanity' for your next Dynamix Event!)

However, it took an extraordinary group of eight and nine year olds to show me the essence of Burden's point. We were playing an old Dynamix standby in which each team must travel to different "islands" (hula hoops) as a group using "magic floating" (foam) boards without falling into the "ocean" (floor). Once the whole team has one foot on their island (in the hula hoop), they are allowed to plant their team flag on it and move onto their next one. That's the key - everyone has to be there; they can't leave anyone behind. A little boy, whom I will rename "Arnold," was growing frustrated with this game. Travelling by foam boards requires the kids to squish together, and so allow their personal space to be invaded. Arnold appeared increasingly upset by this arrangement and made the choice to sit out for a few minutes to calm down. When Arnold's team arrived at their first island I asked, as I always do at this point of the game, "Ok, is everyone here? Can I give you your flag?" And, to my delight, many on the team replied, "No!" and pointed to Arnold. They had not forgotten about him; he was part of their team and they could not complete the task without him. Arnold beamed with pride as he rejoined his team to plant their flag.

Anyone who works with kids will agree that their choices are constantly surprising and insightful. That day, Arnold and his team showed me that it is not so much the destination that is important. After all, Arnold's team did make it to their first island without him. Of most significance to them was that they complete the task together. It is often the case in school or at work that one assertive member of a team takes over a project. The task gets done, but the team as a unit is unsuccessful. Cooperation, then, is the thorough conviction that nobody can accomplish their goal unless everybody helps to accomplish it. 

By Shira Lurie, Dynamix lead facilitator, Toronto Office

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Making a Difference through Empathy

How do we educate our children about essential character traits that will help guide them to make good choices?  What traits are important to foster in our children?

I was reading through this list of “amazing kids who make a difference” and was thinking to myself, what is at the heart of these children’s kindness and giving spirit? What is a trait shared by these children that contributes to their ability to make a difference in the lives of others?
I realized that it is Empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else might feel; to put one’s self in “someone else’s shoes” and consider how another person is affected by their life circumstances and experiences. Empathy is essential. Empathy is at the foundation of qualities like kindness, respect, loyalty, and patience.
Many of the children in this list have seriously considered how someone else is feeling and, in turn, have taken action to improve the lives of others. Empathy can lead to taking initiative to help people; learning to be empathetic changes our behavior towards others. It’s important to teach kids how to be empathetic, but it’s also necessary to help kids realize that, once they understand how someone else might be feeling in a certain situation, they can actually make a difference and change those feelings through their own actions.
Children who have empathy are less likely to bully and more likely to intervene to stop bulling. It’s harder to hurt someone or standby and watch someone be hurt when we are tuning in to how they are feeling and how we would feel in a similar situation. 

It’s important to realize that empathy is a learned trait.
So, how do we teach our children to be empathetic?

1.      Don’t shush, discuss – In moments when children say or do things that could be hurtful to others, discuss the situation rather than simply telling them not to say or do those things. Discussing why their words or actions could be hurtful to others, a child can start to think about how another person might feel and how their actions contribute to those feelings.

2.      Model it  - If the adults in a child’s life model empathy, the child is far more likely to understand and acquire this trait. Talk through it and verbalize what you’re doing as you demonstrate empathy. For example, if you stop to help someone pick up coins that they have dropped while with a child, tell them afterward that you helped because the person may have been embarrassed or upset about dropping the coins, and helping that person to pick them up may have made them feel better.

3.      Praise it - Kids need to see themselves as capable of changing feelings, so when a child does something kind to another person, point it out and praise it! Make sure to be specific and mention the feelings involved. For example, “Annie looked really happy when you shared your toy with her. That was a very nice thing for you to do!”

4.      Ask questions – Asking a child to consider how someone else might be feeling is a good way to encourage empathy. Whether you are reading a story, watching tv, grocery shopping, or going for a walk, don’t be afraid to ask a kid how they think someone else might be feeling in a certain situation. For example, if you see a child being left out of a game, you could ask “how do you think this boy feels to be left out of the game?” or “how do you think it would feel to be left out of the game?”

Discussing situations where children are not being empathetic, praising children when they are, modeling empathy, and asking questions about feelings are all simple ways that we can foster the development of empathy in our children. If we are able to raise kids who have the ability to think about how someone else is feeling and in turn, treat that person with kindness and respect, we will have a whole generation of children who make a difference, in subtle and in big ways!

Written by: Shea Wood.

Dynamix: Team-Building for Kids and Teens, Since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ontario Ministry of Education Approved!

We, at Dynamix, are proud to have had our Bullying Prevention Plans Ontario Ministry of Education Approved!

Dynamix is now listed on the Registry of Resources for Safe and Inclusive Schools

What does this mean for you:

Our proactive strategy is to prevent bullying by creating positive relationships. Through experiential activities, students learn to make good choices and to respect and care about each other so they do not bully and shut bullying down when they witness it. Studies show that when bystanders care about the victim, they can stop bullying within 10 seconds. Our Bullying Prevention Plan has programs that:

  • Build a team of recess leaders for an active, inclusive school yard.
  • Train students to recognize/exercise great character.
  • Develop student leadership skills to energize a school.
  • Create engaged teams in classes, faculty and school communities.
Registry Classification Checklist for this program (PDF, 44KB)
  • Audience recommended by the provider: K-12, Teacher/Parent Tool
  • Costing Information: Please contact.
Dynamix, 1703 Victoria Park Avenue, 2nd Floor, Toronto, ON M1R 1R9
Jo-Ann DaPonte

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Two Words that will help your team outperform the rest!

There are two simple words that make every team better. "Thank you!"  It's that simple.  Say them often.  Say them loudly.
With thanksgiving just around the corner this seems like the perfect time to be talking about these two simple, yet incredibly impactful words.
G.B. Stern once said: "Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone."  If you want to see positive choices and actions repeated, the best thing you can do is show gratitude for them happening in the first place!
It always amazes me how much more frequently we see people giving what has become affectionately known as "Constructive Feedback" (Which, overtime, has become another way of saying: "I'm about to tell you something I'd like you to do better, please don't get mad."), rather than Positive Feedback (which I guess would be more like saying: "I'm about to tell you exactly why I think you're wonderful!")  If you truly want your team to perform at the highest level, you and your teammates must reverse this trend.  Challenge yourselves to give positive feedback twice as much as it's 'constructive' counter-part.  Once you think you've achieved that, push yourselves to give positive feedback three times as much!  And never stop pushing yourself and your teammates to do better!  

Now, if you are going to do this, please make sure you do it properly, so get ready for "Thank You 101"...

Step 1: Always be looking for positive choices and actions.  Keep your antennas up!
Step 2: When you see great things happening, give immediate feedback.
Step 3: Be specific.  Don't just say "Thank you" and expect your teammate to know what you are talking about, tell them what you are thanking them for.  This may seem obvious, but it is often an overlooked step.
Step 4: When possible, thank your teammates in front of other people.  This has a double benefit.  (1) it feels great to be publicly recognized  (2) it gives others an idea of something they too can do for the team
Step 5: Repeat.  Often.

Now it's time to walk the walk...

THANK YOU for taking the time to read this article! 
Written by: Mitch Zeltzer, Dynamix Co-Founder.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The transition from elementary to high school can be an overwhelming experience. Children spend years learning how to get along in elementary school to be swiftly taken out of their safe haven and tossed into
unfamiliar territory. The unknown coupled with the myths about high school are sure to raise concern and, in some cases, anxiety.

High school should be a time for learning, growing, meeting friends and creating memories that will last a life-time. Students should not feel isolated, unwelcome or fearful. With the right support and tools, students can embrace the transition and not fear it. It is important for students to share their feelings, expectations and concerns with other students. Knowing that they are not alone creates a great sense of relief. Another key component to a successful transition is learning the necessary soft skills that will:
A) empower them,
B) enable them to deal with unpredictable situations, and
C) teach them how to get along and co-exist with others.

Some examples include conflict resolution, communication and good decision making. School is a time to learn about math, science and geography but the precursor to academic success and most other success is confidence, positive values and solid interpersonal skills. Give your children these tools and watch them grow!

Written by: Corey Szwarcok, Dynamix Co-founder.

Dynamix: Team-building for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

Picture taken from Google Images, source:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sibling Rivalry: Not So Much of a Good Thing

We are proud to share this great commentary by our very own High School Co-op student.  Thank you Evelin for your thoughts and unique perspective on such an important topic.
- - -
I found myself reading this New York Times article and thinking that it is a strange idea, that the worst type of bully can be your brother or sister. As a child in elementary school, I was constantly bullied. I’ve been called names, I’ve been teased, I’ve had my possessions stolen by these bullies, and I’ve even gotten pushed around physically. When you hear the word “bully,” it’s always that same image that comes to mind; a school, a playground, or even a summer camp. You never stop and that hey, maybe, just maybe, both the victim and the bully are living under the same roof.

I have two younger siblings, between us there is a huge age gap. There is definitely some sibling rivalry between us. My sister and I get along well, but when it comes to me and my brother, we definitely don’t see eye to eye. Sometimes I feel as if he’s purposely out to get me, and our fights consist of everything from name-calling and tattling to physically trying to aggravate the other. Of course, since I am the older one, I tend to hear the line “how old are you, and how old is he?” way too often. I feel like my brother is getting away with every single situation, while I’m getting pinned as the bad guy, even if he really did start the fight.

Of course, the majority of the time parents shrug off siblings fighting as normal, and until I read this article, I hadn’t considered otherwise. However, I realized that maybe our fighting is doing more damage to us than we think. Perhaps it will eventually take a toll on the mental health of either my brother or I. After all, the only thing our fighting accomplishes is unhappiness, retracted privileges, and bruises. Although I absolutely cannot imagine the fighting stopping completely, I am definitely attempting to think twice about how I act around my brother, because in truth, I do care about him as well as myself. Maybe picking fewer fights will stop us both from having psychological breakdowns down the road, who knows?

Just know, siblings are going to fight no matter what. Though parents should be watchful and never let it go too far, because that is when rivalry turns into bullying, and isn’t bullying something we want to keep out of our homes? 

by Evelin

Friday, June 21, 2013

Leadership and Teambuilding SUMMER CAMPS - with Dynamix (in Woodbridge, ON)

If you live in Woodbridge, Ontario and haven't already registered your children for one of Dynamix' great summer camp experiences already, you should be sure to check them out!

These action-packed camps will be a ton of FUN and will set your child up for life and academic success by building a strong foundation of leadership, character and teamwork skills!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Game of The Month January: Number Sense

Purpose: An team challenge that focuses on communication and leadership.
Materials: One Blindfold for each participant, One index card per participant with numbers on them
  • Give each participant a number card, instruct them not to share it with anyone, and then blindfold each participant and have them return their number card to you.
  • The goal is for the group to put themselves in numeric order while blindfolded, without talking.
  • For older groups, here’s a great way you can increase the level of difficulty.  Do not give the participants consecutive numbers. Skip around with little regard to the pattern, for example 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 14, 17, 18. Be sure to always have a “1” and the number that represents the number of participants in the activity.
What was difficult about this challenge?
How did your team overcome being blindfolded?
How did you overcome your inability to speak?
What would you do differently if we were to try this again?