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TOYS THAT ALLOW CHILDREN TO EXPLORE EMOTIONS

LINA SJÖLANDER

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SUMMARY

WHAT: A toy which expresses different emotions depending on how you adjust the moving parts.

WHY: Children learn through play, and children with an emotional competence have a lead not only in a social environment but also in academics. Children who have a hard time in their social environment have a bigger risk of later in life having mental health problems.

INVOLVED THROUGH DISCUSSIONS: From Brio; Daniel Mauritzson, senior product designer and Erik Söderlind, Design Manager.
Region Gävleborg, Carola Owetz, specialpedagog with a focus on communication aid.
The Preschool Flygande Draken, Josefine Smedbakken, preschool teacher.

MENTOR: Annika Viding

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Sketches. Some are more of the comforting type, others are more exploration of emotions and one is more of a discussion topic between child and pedagog such as “who [which emotion] is fronting today?” as in what emotions are dominant right now.

The concept I chose to further develop are the cats at the top.

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The picture shows the figure after a 3-year old has played with it. The brows are supposed to be tears, and the figure is sad.
During user tests, children were given the figure and immediately started playing with it. Changed expression, mimicked it or tried to figure out how to make it happier or comfort it.

THE CONCEPT

The concept is two- or three different figures with different length, width and fabric to highlight that we all look different on the outside. But on the inside, we all have similar emotions. This presentation model is made out of cibatool, wadding, fabric and the moving parts are made of european beech.
 

The idea is that preschool teachers will use this toy together with children, to guide, help and talk about the different emotions. The purpose with this toy is to let children explore their emotions in a playful way.

PROCESS

My process consisted of literature study, market analysis, interviews, workshops, user tests and observations to get a bigger understanding of the needs and wants of my target group. I've had discussions with preschool teachers and toy companies who in their own field possess a lot of knowledge which has benefited my work.
Pictured above is during my observation, and my intention was to see if children were playing differently with various emotions -they were.

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I did a mockup to try and figure out how it should work and look. Here it is with a bowtie because it was a big day as it all worked out as planned.

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The skeleton of the finished figure. It's easily divided in half and here you can see how it's built and the mechanics of it.

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The final result. A toy that can change its facial expressions as you adjust the movable details. I’ve worked around five emotions; joy, anger, sadness, fear and disgust. 

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This shows a closeup of the final result and the meeting between the details made of beech and the woven fabric. Mouth and nose is supposed to be embroidered.

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