One of the most exciting moments for a designer is seeing the reaction of the potential users when they first see the product. That is why I was so excited when I got a chance to visit one of Leeds primary schools and do a presentation of one of my most recent creations – the pop-up book “Peculiar Polish Traditions”.
The aim of the book was to teach children from other countries about Polish traditions that are not very popular abroad. I was really happy to find that the group of children to whom I was presenting was of mixed nationalities and cultures, so each of them had some unique traditions and celebrations of their own. I showed them and explained two games – Marzanna and Śmigus-dyngus which both really appealed to them. Especially the idea of a big street water fight on Śmigus-dyngus made they eyes spark a lot. It was very important for me to see whether the children understood how to play the game and how does it relate to the “real” celebration in Poland. I read them the paragraph from the book, played the animations and then we talked about it. As my presentation had to fit into the school curricular, I had to link my games to the instruction writing unit that the children have just started with their teacher. I really wish I had more time to focus on the cultural aspects of the book and talk about children’s own family traditions and the differences, but we had some more exciting things planned for the second part of the class and the time was pressing.
The second part of the class was a board game making workshop for which I had prepared a big, blank board with a little pop-up house in the middle. Also, each child got a white game piece to draw on. To start off I asked each child to come up with an idea of who they wanted to draw on their game pieces and surprise, surprise… they all wanted to draw themselves. Which I thought was great as this would make the game more personal and engaging but it needed a more refined theme…
So I decided to make my own piece a villain – the Evil Snowman! And this was a jackpot hit as nothing works as well on children’s imagination as a baddie. After that the ideas started to snowball. One of my favourite was to have a hair-drier as a weapon to chase away the Evil Snowman. And the hut in the middle became a shelter with a Granny inside giving children hot chocolate to give them energy to move faster in the winter land.
The kids loved creating the game so much that they have decided to stay during their play time to finish off. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to play it. However the game was so successful that the teachers decided to make it the main theme to the instruction writing unit, so the kids got to play it later. They have also created the instruction books which I was shown later.