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COMPANY

Flash Fun Education, LLC

 

TIME

3 weeks

TEAM

Brooke Higgins

Derek Watson

TOOLS

Sketch, InVision, and
Adobe Photoshop

DELIVERABLES

– Research

– Persona

– User Flow

– Wireframes and Mockups

– User Testing

– Interactive Prototype

Broadening Sentence Soup's Reach to Engage Children
in Grammar

Flash Fun Education, LLC creates exciting, hands-on learning tools and games to support English Language Arts, Speech and Communication, Geography and History in ways that are dynamic, meaningful, and unforgettable for learners of all ages and abilities.

 

THE PROBLEM:

Sentence Soup originated as a card-style game that aimed to educate children on sentence structure and grammar. Due to the sudden need for educational resources that can be used at home, afforded by the Coronavirus, Sentence Soup needed to hit the market in a digital edition.

MY ROLE:

I was the Project Manager and Lead UI designer. I contributed in research, surveys, user interviews, user flows, prototyping as well as developed the presentation design.

Flash Fun Education, LLC created Sentence Soup for the educational benefit and entertainment, the purpose: to develop and improve written and oral communication skills. Sentence Soup engages participants with fun, action-oriented decision making, as they create variably structured sentences.

 

It's founder, Ed Porritt, who has over 30 years of teaching experience, brought it to life during his annual “teaching vacation” in the mountains of Evergreen, Colorado. Ed teaches writing at a summer camp for elementary-age dyslexic students. It was there, amid the clear mountain air, that Ed developed with marker and construction paper what would become Sentence Soup.

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HOW TO PLAY

SENTENCE SOUP:
HOW TO PLAY

Our first step in our project was understanding how to play the game. In person play was not an option due to COVID restrictions, however we were able to virtually watch two children, Maci (9 years old) and Mia (14 years old) play Ed's card-style game. Key learnings were: The game was too complex and Ed had to walk them through it numerous times before they got a basic knowledge of it. Making this into an online game didn't appeal to them. Finally they enjoyed playing against one another rather than by themselves.

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Here's how to play: Cards are color-coded by parts of speech. For example, Level A (seen on the right) has article, noun, adjective, verb and punctuation. Players build their sentence by choosing a word they like from each colored deck. They then arrange the cards to build their sentence.

 

For it to be complete, they need to identify capitalization, subject and object using circular markers. After reviewing their sentence they add up its entire value and earn coins. The harder the sentence, the more points it’s worth. This is an incentive for kids to build more difficult sentences.

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USER RESEARCH

USER RESEARCH:
GAME ON!

After learning how Sentence Soup was played it was now our turn to have some fun with user research. Our team created accounts and profiles to play numerous online learning games in order to learn aspects of game design. Our Key learning was: the games didn't have the depth/levels that Sentence Soup would have. Also many of them were not that fun and bland.

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We then created two Google Surveys targeting children and educators/parents. Key learnings are: Games need to be self-led, kids needed incentives to keep playing (like customizing an avatar) and 79% of educators/parents have never paid for an online learning game. We also interviewed teachers and friends that helped Ed with his card-style game. The overwhelming thought was it needed to be SIMPLIFIED.

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PERSONA

MEET SAMANTHA

After research and interviews, a persona was formed. The Key Persona is: Samantha who is 9 years old and needs a more fun and engaging way to learn grammar before she heads into 5th grade.

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GAME DESIGN

GAME DESIGN:

Ed created detailed outlines of each level of his game in Excel spreadsheets. Initially they overwhelmed us and we started to panic, however we knew after watching Maci and Mia play, we had to simplify it and figure out how to make it FUN. 

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Game Screen (Level C)

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Existing Color Palette

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Parts of Speech

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After prioritizing the information for the online game,  we decided to do a "crazy-eight" exercise to start getting some ideas flowing. Below are our low-fidelty wireframes we showed Ed.

 

Key findings: He really liked the idea of the words floating however he wanted them in a soup bowl. More aspects of the game needed to be transferred over like a timer, account creation and more parts of speech. We worked with him on adding more items into the game making sure not to overwhelm the kids.

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DIGITAL GAME

SENTENCE SOUP: DIGITAL GAME

Due to time constraints and the numerous levels and theme packages Ed wanted us to create, we focused on building out "Level A" along with a basic tutorial on how to play the game so it could be self-led.

 

We incorporated Ed's input from the low-fidelty sketches, worked with teachers to see how the flow of the game should work (i.e. how they teach kids to build a sentence) and then created a clickable prototype in InVision. We knew we had to user test with children before we could move forward to finalize anything. Below is our user testing of Sentence Soup.

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USER TESTING

USER TESTING: INITIAL WIREFRAMES

Key Learning: Kids wanted MORE color and point values on the words needed to be clearer. We added more color in the bowl as well as in the bottom sentence builder. The colors correspond with each part of speech they used. We added in the point values next to the words so the kids could challenge themselves if they wanted to chose harder words.

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Key Learning: Tutorials need to be shorter. We worked with teachers and shortened down the instructional screens so the kids could jump into playing the game faster. You can see how much we cut from the dot indicators.

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Key Learning: Incentives/coins needed to be more noticeable, like upgrading an avatar and seeing how many coins they've earned.

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INVISION PROTOTYPE

samantha jones

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NEXT STEPS

NEXT STEPS

We met with Ed after our presentation and discussed his next steps for getting Sentence Soup online, which are: building out the next set of levels/theme packages, getting his website functional and linking our prototype to it so he can get investors onboard and finally working with a developer to add animation and sound to the game.

This was by far the hardest project that I worked on during my UX/UI design immersive at General Assembly. I had a difficult time in the beginning wrapping my head around how we were going to teach kids grammar in a FUN way. However, after getting over that road block everything clicked and I hope someday I will see kids using Sentence Soup in school as well as at home.

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