Information icon.



Product Designer


Product Design
User Experience


This project is from my Junior year at Cornish College of the Arts. We were asked to create a design which Incorporated play and meaning for children.


My goal (and assignment) was to explore the concept of integrating play into learning for children from ages 6 to 9.

I knew I wanted to explore a concept related to life skills education. In my mind, a successful product would promote independence, and encourage children to explore process oriented decision making. Eventually I landed upon an idea for a product that guides kids through the process of making simple recipes to grow their independence and executive functionality.



I have continually been inspired by Duolingo and Monument Vally, and I wanted to create a system which measured up to the visual and experiential design delivered in these apps.


After a lot of iteration, I narrowed my discovery phase down to a couple ideas—both of which used augmented reality to deliver the experience. I did a quick survey of my cohort to determine first impressions. The overwhelming majority of people enjoyed the idea of an enhanced gameboard, which combined tactile learning with virtual experiences.


The Game Board

I began exploring the concept by creating a spec for the game board. Unlike my first sketches, the second draft featured a circular playing space. There were two reasons I changed this part of the form factor:

  1. I wanted the board to function like a lazy suzanne so that children could rotate the map in the virtual world via physical input. My assumption was that physical interactions that affected the virtual space would strengthen the connection between the learning in-app and real world applications of the knowledge.
  2. The circular form factor resembles many common pieces of tableware, making the experience more familiar.

After some research, it became apparent that young children use tablets more often than phones. I ended up changing the form factor to support larger devices to ensure that children would be able to insert and remove their tablets with ease.

The final design featured slight changes to the lazy susanne and the tablet holder area. The added tray on top of the modular component allows for users to prop up smaller devices for gameplay, or to hold items, like styluses.

Level Cards

Especially for younger children, having a complicated menu system didn’t feel right. Opposite my original draft of the app, which asked users to select their level, the final design used game cards to control the recipe and scene.

Using scene cards felt more natural to the product’s objectives, because recipes should be chosen, not unlocked. The scene cards feature a floorplan to center the scene, as well as item objectives and a full recipe on the backside to use in real life cooking.

App Development

I had a good start for the app’s structure because I had done a similar design task for Hi Dev during my hiring process. Hi Dev’s original test prompted me to create an app that taught children to construct a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I decided to run with the simplicity of the recipe, being that I only had 4 weeks to build everything else.

This is a prototype.
Try it out!

My assets from the original build were illustrated with bold outlines in an isometric perspective. I wanted the virtual environment to integrate with the surroundings better, but I still wanted to encourage symbol recognition and development. I decided to keep outlines on the assets in the UI for easy reference and removed them in the game scene.


Although I wasn't able to create more than 1 level, I think the concept holds up. I learned a lot, especially about designing for a young demographic—and how much I forget what it's like to be a kid.

I took my designs to a UX researcher for University of Washington, Sariah Mortier. She was delighted by the idea, and gave me a couple ways to improve my work.


Make it language agnostic

I was designing for children who could read, but my designs could only reach English speaking users. Removing language from my designs creates an opportunity to maximize accessibility, as well as include a wider variety of recipes and scenes.


Implement physical game pieces

The game board idea is a good addition to my original idea, but it loses novelty quickly without a more robust use case. Finding a way to implement game pieces strengthens the connection between the virtual and physical spaces, and opens opportunities for fun and expressive animations. After hearing this critique, I immediately thought of an animated dog as the user's character which could be tracked to a game piece. That would be cool.


Include additional sensory inputs.

My final designs went without (arguably) the most potent sensory element in games—sound. Not only is it essential to all video games, adding audio capabilities to a board game creates the opportunity to bring users a more immersive experience than a traditional board game.


Make it more price accessible.

My designs rely on user's access to technology. That's an expensive board game. While there are affordable tablet options, the game should, ideally, maintain functionality without it's digital component.

Previous Project
Next Project