The Happiness Box can be used with various age groups, in different contexts and applied to specific needs. It consists of 42 cards, divided into 7 ‘families’ of 6 cards each. Children can learn strategies from members of the CONFIDENT, FIT, OPTIMISTIC, PLEASURE, CREATIVE, SOCIABLE or PEACEFUL families. The Happiness Box was developed by Pr. Ilona Boniwell and Laure Reynaud, a teacher with 18 years of experience.
The Happiness Box can be used in a family setting or as an education/facilitation tool. It is designed for children of reception and primary school age. However, we have found that adults can have as much (if not more), fun as children when the game is used in training or at the dinner table!
As a classic game: Happy Families / Go Fish
One of the players, chosen at random, deals out 7 cards to all the players, one by one. The remaining cards form the pile.
The person to the dealer’s left begins the game. If they have at least one card from a family, they can try to complete it by asking any player for a specific card which they don’t have and which they want. For this they say: “in the FIT family… I want card 3. Come on, let’s dance…”. Careful! Players can only ask for a card from a particular family if they already have one in their hand.
If the other player has the card they must hand it over. If the asking player obtains the card that they wanted they may play again. If they don’t get the card they asked for, they must then draw the top card from the pile. If the card drawn is the one asked for, the asker says “lucky draw”, shows it to the other players and gets another turn. If the card drawn is not the one wanted the turn now passes to the player on the left who can ask for the card they want.
If a player has a whole family (all 6 cards), they place all the cards of the family in front of them. The game ends when there are no more cards in the pile and each of the families is grouped together. All that remains to do is to count the number of complete families belonging to each player AND try out some of the activities described.
Depending on the size of the group, each participant is handed between 1 to 3 cards, each from a different family. Their task is to collect the cards from the same family (by exchanging with others) and then find their own family members. When the complete family gets together, they must first perform all the exercises on their cards and then prepare a fun presentation of their family to others in which they could demonstrate some or all of the exercises.
As a positive psychology intervention
A moment to share Complete the activity suggested on the card. The activities are generally short and can be completed in a break between two lessons (in class), during a meal or when with friends or family (in the car, at home etc.) Choose the card randomly from the 42 cards in the game, depending on the skill which needs to be worked on (confidence, sociability etc.), the time available (5 minutes, 10 minutes, one hour); or even the objective of the activity itself (example: to relax through breathing or mindfulness exercises etc.)