technology

Career Day: Teaching Kids About Design

Teaching kids about designing for technology: resources and tips

I recently spoke at my children’s school for Career Day. As a User Experience Designer in the web and mobile technology industry, I figured I had some skills that would resonate with young children’s love of devices. That was an understatement, and I wish I had been given more time to hang out and listen to their ideas about design. I have a feeling it wouldn’t take long before I would have learned just as much from them as they had from me.

For anyone considering a similar school presentation, or if you just want to get children interested in the field of design and technology, here are the materials and activities I used in my presentation. These were presented to 1st and 2nd graders, in 30-40 minute sessions, with approximately 18 children in each session. But the approach could be adapted to older audiences and longer sessions. (more…)

DIY iPhone Case

So awesome to have a series of iPhone case 'skins' that I can swap out on a whim. I started out this project thinking it would be something fun to do with my daughter, who recently received an iPhone 4 after a series of family phone updates and hand-me-downs left us with an extra phone. Now that she has her own phone, she’s become very quick to ask for a new case each time she sees one she likes. When I saw the clear plastic cases on Amazon recently, I realized that it would be easy and very inexpensive to make her a series of ‘skins’ that she can change on a whim. And once I went to the craft store to pick out paper, I decided I wanted to make one or two for myself as well. (more…)

5 Reasons to Love Disney Imagicademy


Disney Imagicademy just released a new app and we love it: Mickey's Magical Arts World

It’s no secret that we’re huge Disney fans in our household, so when we were invited to try out the latest app in the Disney Imagicademy series of learning and creativity apps, I was thrilled. The Disney name is synonymous with imagination, so my expectations for Mickey’s Magical Arts World were high.  Over the past week, we explored all 5 sections of the creative learning app, and it’s clear, the experience does not disappoint. (more…)

Digital Image to Printed Page: Custom Journals for Kids

My process for creating awesome and inexpensive custom travel journals for my children - so easy to create these on your phone.

Remember in the 80s when you made collages out of cut-up magazines, stickers and other print ephemera? Maybe you don’t. Anyway, these days collaging has gone digital, and my children love taking photos and layering on all sorts of drawings, stickers, text and other digital effects.

As soon as I saw how much my daughter loved taking pictures with her new phone, I introduced her to A Beautiful Mess, an app that let’s you add doodles, text, filters and other effects to photos. Soon after, she introduced me to Pic Collage. It’s been photo-editing bliss ever since.

With all of the images we captured at Disneyworld recently, I decided to up our game in the photo documentation area and create journals for Jason and Jenna using some of my photos along with some of the photos they ‘enhanced’ in their favorite apps. (more…)

Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Tomodachi Life


Nintendo DS3 Animal Crossing New Leaf and Tomodachi Life reviewed by a six-year-old.

My children’s school recently introduced a program into their curriculum that teaches the basics of programming in a fun, video-game-like manner. While the coding curriculum hasn’t reached Jason or Jenna’s classroom yet, I’m super excited for when it does. Like most kids their age, my children LOVE video games, especially with our recent purchase of the Nintendo 2DS. But they also talk at times of becoming game designers. I secretly love this idea, probably because I’m biased toward technology (a field in which my husband and I are both employed).

So when I was invited by Clever Girls Collective to review two new Nintendo games with my daughter, I jumped at the chance. It was the perfect opportunity to talk to her about game design – what makes a game fun, what makes her continue to play, how would she design it to make it even better?

We received two Nintendo 3DS games: Animal Crossing™: New Leaf and Tomodachi Life. Both can be played on the 2DS as well. (more…)

Technology and Tinkering

Some thoughts on kids, technology and the new Tinker Crates from Kiwi Crate.

I read quite a bit about children and technology. As someone who works in the tech industry, the contradiction between being a designer who is constantly seeking out ‘the latest’ and being a parent who is simultaneously sheltering my kids from this same tendency is something I think about almost daily.

While we have boundaries in place like most parents (though I’ve read that parents in the tech industry tend to be stricter about screen time and device usage), we still struggle with creating a balance between ‘real’ and digital experiences. And as my kids made me realize last weekend when I looked out my window and saw the scene above, they don’t seem aware of a difference between real and digital.  (more…)

Online Invites for the Paper Lover in You

I’ve never been a fan of online invitations. I love paper and design way too much to be content with the templates of most online invite services. But in the course of planning an upcoming ‘design-your-own-pizza’ dinner with friends, I started to reconsider. The dinner seemed too casual for sending invitations, but an email is so underwhelming. So I did a search and came across a site called Paperless Post. The designs are fabulous, and there are way more options to customize than I’ve seen on other sites. I haven’t chosen a design yet, but here are a few of my favorites:

Can We Play Another Game?

I think my kids are finally starting to understand games – not so much the concept of winning and losing, but the idea that there’s an intended outcome to an activity. The iPad has definitely played a part in this discovery. The simple act of reading The Lorax has become game-like to Jason and Jenna. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, especially when I hear Jason asking “can we play another game?” less than 30 seconds after starting the first game. But, on a more positive note, their interest in games extends beyond the digital realm.

Today I finished making a new game for J & J – a matching game. While it’s not an iPad game, it is still tactile, portable and (I hope) engaging.