For the past two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work from home: first as a full-time employee, now as a contractor. The benefits in terms of work-life balance have been amazing – and could easily be the subject of an entire post – but I have found myself saying to my kids, “I’m sorry, I can’t play that game with you right now. I need to work.” As a result, I’m always looking for opportunities to help my kids understand what it is I do for work and relate words like “E-Learning” and “design” to their world of play.
This weekend, my five-year-old and I decided to create a learning game. She came home from kindergarten talking about Lexia and asked to use the app on our old tablet. We took a look at the games together (she’s really enjoying them) and decided it would also be fun to make our own version with some Spanish vocabulary words.
We started by defining some parameters:
- Our audience would be Fiona’s cousin, friends, neighbors, and little siblings. Most kids couldn’t read yet, or had limited reading skills, so all our instructions would need to be in the voiceover – and we couldn’t use text to teach the vocabulary.
- Our first game would teach the words in Spanish for different colors. Later, we decided to make another game (our new favorite) with words for food.
- Players would tap shapes or pictures to learn the vocabulary before practicing it in the scored part of the game.
- If players didn’t get the answer right, they’d get to try again until they were correct.
- We needed a visible progress bar (in our case, stars) that would show players how far along they were in the game.
- We’d put in some fun but basic animations.
Game #1: Colors
For our first game, “Colors,” we started by making some simple pick-one interactions in Storyline 2:
We decided to use stars for the progress bar, and keep big, bold circles to click on for the color questions. It worked, but seemed to be missing something… until we added in sounds. We found some clips with an open license on http://freesound.org, including one that was perfect for our “correct” answers:
We also added some music to the beginning, and an opening animation that led to a screen with clickable circles to teach all the colors.
We had so much fun, we ended up making a second level using animal pictures instead of the colored circles. To make it a little more challenging, we gave learners three options to choose from. This allowed us to search for some graphics we liked – and talk about how to cut out images from a background (we ended up choosing ones that were already isolated to make it a little easier). Instead of just setting triggers to the colored shape, we grouped the shape and the image then set triggers for each group to show a correct or “try again” layer.
Click here to give it a try!
Game #2: Comida
For our second attempt, we refined and simplified the process. We built over the old Colors game to make a game about food – in Spanish, comida. We decided to keep some elements the same – using music and an opening animation, teaching the vocabulary through clickable shapes, sound effects to reinforce correct/incorrect answers etc., but also to make some changes.
We simplified the background, choosing a solid green, and found graphics to use for the food words. When we “taught” the vocabulary, the terms would only be revealed when the learner tapped each shape.
This time my daughter wanted to help record the audio – while I use my microphone every week, it hadn’t occurred to me that she’d never used one before. It’s pretty fun when you’re five to hear your voice in a game! I recorded the instructions, and with some careful editing we recorded her speaking the vocabulary terms.
This game took less time because we used a similar format to the previous one. After some practice copying shapes, cropping images, and assigning triggers to groups the task was quickly turned back over to me to complete.
Click here to play the game.
What Did We Learn?
I’ve never tried to create eLearning with my daughter before, and I’ll admit it was a ton of fun. I’m pretty sure we’ll continue to make some simple games together. While she won’t be using Storyline to author games on her own anytime soon (I may look around for a program designed for kids to use), working together provided a wonderful opportunity for us to discuss the decisions we were making and how they would impact a player’s experience – and learning – in the game. And she’s excited to share what we created with her friends.