Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Trail Path Example

I took the shape of the path from Whinlatter's previous activity sheet.
I tried for the walk to never be too long for the children between a sign, board, post or activity. This means they're always excited to find the next thing, which is sure to be near. This will prevent boredom.
I left the very last pumpkin sign for the adjoining activity sheet right towards the end, so the children always have something to look forward to. Something which they know will be there.
The character posts mark the presence of an upcoming information board - therefore the boards have been positioned close to the posts.
"This way" signs have been positioned where the path breaks off a different way.
Activities are spaced out.
The trail does a full circle, starting at the Visitor's centre (where the "Start sign" is positioned) and finishing there too. There is a "Finish" sign to reward children with a sense of accomplishment. Then they can go to the visitor's centre to get their sweet reward for completing the pumpkin activity sheet!
Overall, as you can see above, this trail will be packed with activities, games and information, meaning that children will have fun. The directional signs prevent anyone from getting lost.

Trail will be about 45 minutes long.

Trail Posts Development

 First composition.
Yellow - stands out from a distance.
You will be able to see the yellow first, then walk closer to inspect the characters.
To show that the walker is one the right track.
After considering that research showed curved, rounded signs when designed for children, I gave my signs a curved edge.

No one selected the moon as their favourite character during the user testing. It therefore appeared to be the weakest character to me. I therefore replaced it with a more animated, textured and interesting ghost character.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Development - witch activities and activity sheets

 I didn't think portrait was working. Landscape would be easier to follow the order of the pumpkins.

I decided to change the typeface reading "Activity Sheet" to something stronger and more modern. I didn't think the other font was working as well. This font matches the numbers. I also added to the text that upon completing the activity, you could hand in the finished sheet at the Visitors Centre to receive a treat. This change was a direct influence from user testing.
The colours of the trail were used to keep consistancy.

The two bottom activities were a result of user testing: the children had some wonderful creative ideas for me.
Each witch has their own bright colour.

Information board development

The original ideas for my information board can be found in my blog. This post shows the development from computer screen.

Left: underneath. Able to turn the wheel to reveal more images and information. This gives a further level of interactivity to the board to engage children.
 Spruce and larch trees can be found in Whinlatter forest, while the cherry tree is immediately recongisable, even to a young audience.

I added another interactive element by introducing a peer-through circle:
The below images would be placed further down on the board, so that the children would have to lean to peer in to see the images.

I started to lay out boxes to show where the text and images would go. I wanted the rat - the image that signals what number information board this is, as well as confirming the board is part of the Halloween trail - in the centre, for it should be seen first.
I positioned the peep-holes low down, so that children would easily be able to peer through. By positioning them higher, it might have been more difficult for younger children to reach them.
There is also the wheel to turn to reveal different information about the magic properties of trees.
A barcode has been added for additional features.

I added the text and most of the imagery. The photography relates to Halloween and Whinlatter forest.
Arrows have been added to the board to show motion, to encourage the children to play with the special features.
The rat image can be lifted up to reveal information below, focused on how this animal - the rat - relates to Halloween. This would be done with the different characters on information boards.
The information on the board relates to Halloween and teaches children about the history of the festivity. I kept the language chatty to avoid it appearing dull.

However, after mocking it up I felt that the yellow appeared to harsh. It was starting to look too plastic and I wanted to keep the natural appearance of the forest. I therefore experimented with removing the yellow in favour of different wood types.
I felt that the texture of this one was too strong and was making the text hard to read.

This, on the other hand, didn't have enough texture.

This seemed to be the perfect balance.

Final touches with Halloween photography. Neatening layout.

I altered the peep-through elements so that it was clearer that the children would be unable to view the image until they peered through. Another interactive element. Another board with the images - perhaps a panel - would be slotted underneath this board.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Halloween information

I included various Halloween-related information on my information board. I found the information from a number of websites:

I found the magic properties of wood/trees information (also included on my information board) from these websites:

I kept the text on my information board very conversational and as easy to read as possible... I wanted the children to have no trouble reading it and not for it to appear boring for them!


I felt that User Testing was vital to my work. I therefore enlisted the help of school children (aged 5-7, my target audience). They were asked to answer questions and critique my work.

Here are the sheets they filled out:

ALL of the children responded that they like to go on walks! Having researched about the number of children glued to screens this was very refreshing to hear. The response on how often they go out with their friends and family was mixed. Some responded that they go out a lot, others said not so much. A lot of children said they went to the park.
The children liked the characters a lot. However, I did not that no one picked the moon as their favourite.

I next wanted to see if the kids could do the pumpkin activity sheet. The results are below. They had fun drawing the faces. They would have liked the reward of a sweet for the task's completion after the trail.

Written by the teacher after asking the children numerous questions about my work. Saying what the children were asking and talking about:

Can we do the walk? 
That looks exciting.
I like the witches.
I love Halloween. (...Basically a Halloween trail is a brilliant idea as it immediately excites the kids and they want to go.)
I love the activity sheet. I would love to do this. The faces are funny...cute...exciting.
Would like treats rewarded when finished Pumpkin activity sheet.
They liked all the characters.
They were extremely excited by the activities and wanted to do them there and then! 
They found it fun to even copy the faces! 
I love the pumpkins. Can we make one? Do you make one on the trail?
My dad would like to do these activities too.
Liam said...Are there no ghosts? I love ghosts they are spooky. 
Later... Will there be ghosts on the walk?.....later could we dress up as ghosts.....later where are the ghosts? 
He went on and on about ghosts.

I've obviously made a mistake to not include ghosts! As Liam was pointing out. Since none of the children answered that the moon was their favourite character, instead opting for all of the others, I think it would make sense to replace the moon character with a ghost!

Treats was also something pointed out. A number of the children expressed that they would have liked some sort of reward after the trail. Many suggested treats. I think it would be a great incentive. Perhaps Halloween themed treats could be on offer! This also links back to trick or treating.

The children also had a number ideas for me! I asked if they had any ideas for activities you could do in the wood for my witch signs. Their answers were wonderfully creative. Seen below:
I'll be giving them credit for this one!

Overall, I found user testing so important. It has definitely made me consider a few things, but overall I am pleased that the children understood and really seemed to like my design.

Typefaces for children

I undertook research to understand which typefaces would be the most suitable for children.

On noted:

There is no research that says that either serif or sanserif typefaces are intrinsically more legible. Teacher opinion, generally, favours sanserif typefaces because of the simplicity of the letter shapes.

Warm, rounded typefaces were liked by children because of their friendly appearance. Typefaces with larger x-heights are easier for children to read.

Condensed and expanded typefaces make it hard for children to read. So do very bold or very light typefaces.

Sassoon Primary is a font that is specifically designed for young children, as well as Gills Sans Infant, Bembo Infant and Plantin Infant.

In general, it is true to say that some typefaces are less suited for particular uses while others are specially designed for them. Gill Sans, for example, is very popular for children’s books because it is a humanistic lineal. Distinct shapes with sufficient differences between the individual letters that, especially in the larger font sizes used in books for small children, are more similar to teaching material than seriffed types.
A few typefaces used for children’s books and texts for the visually impaired and dyslexic. Gill Sans is often used for children’s books because of its mild character. APHont was specifically designed for the visually impaired. Tahoma and Comic Sans are considered easily accessible alternatives by interest groups for the visually impaired.

I therefore decided to use Gill Sans for my body type.

I used Bebas Neu for headlines. Headlines is where you can get a quirkier font, for children can read them easier, for there is not very many words present. Bebas Neue is bold, dominant and therefore good for headlines.

Other fonts were inspired by the Gothic nature of my woodland trail. 


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Different Types of Learning

There is recognizably three different types of learning: Kinesthetic learners, visual learns and audible learners. I felt that this was important to identify during my children's trail, to understand how some children might feel happier about engaging with my design.

Kinesthetic Learners
- Also known as tactile learning.
- Learn by carrying out a physical activity rather than listening or watching.
- Make up about 5% of the population.
- It helps them to move around when learning.
- Good hand-eye coordination.
- Often restless, fidgeting etc. 
- May be good at repairing work, sculpting, art or working with various tools.
- Interactive design may appeal to them.

Auditory Learners
- A person who learns through listening.
- Learn through hearing and speaking.
- Can hear changes in tones, rhythm.
- Can work better with noise in the background e.g. music or TV. This helps them concentrate more.
- Often good at storytelling.
- May talk to themselves or move their lips and read out loud.

Visual Learners
- Learn through written language, such as reading and writing tasks.
- Prefer using images, pictures, colours and maps to organise information. Likes visual support.
- Learn best through seeing.
- Usually take not for lectures.

Kinesthetic learners might therefore be happier to interact with my design, to play and feel and lift flaps. A level of interactivity will certainly appeal to them. Visual learners, on the other hand, may enjoy activity sheets and processing and reading images and text on information boards. While audible learners may find it helpful to have someone else - perhaps an adult - read them the information. They could also enjoy activities that involve sound - such as listening to the calls of birds, for example, while they could also enjoy storytelling and narratives.


Where The Wild Things Play

Wildplay is based at Herefordshire Nature Trust and encourages children to explore the outdoors. One way they do this is through their WildPlay Area, which offers environmental play activities for children.

They have also produced an activity pack, which encourages children to interact with the outdoor world.
The symbols on this page make it easy to identify what type of location a certain area is or which season the activities are best performed in. The symbols are easily understood, obviously represent what they do with clear imagery.
The layout of the activity sheets is very playful, almost messy. Text winds it way across the page, with imagery to stop it becoming overwhelming. Only green has been used but I feel like the pages could stand out more if they had other brighter colours too.

Explaining nature activities.
 Other activities. Creative ways of making nature fun for children.
Again, these activities make the most of nature. Den building, cloud gazing... there is a lot that can be done outside.
Encouraging skills such a tracking.
I love this idea - of having children tick things off as they find them. This encourages them to be on the alert all the way through the trail without them getting bored. The 3D design of the pages also add an extra fun level of interactivity.
Educating about different types of leaves. Clear illustrations.
Educating about different fruits and seeds.

Overall this activity sheets really make the most of nature. Not only do they educate children about things they probably didn't know about, but they also create fun ways to engage children in nature.


National Trust Easter Egg Trail

The National Trust hosted an "Easter Egg Trail". I felt that this linked to my work greatly, for they also produced a children's trail for a festivity, this being Easter instead of Halloween, which is my focus. The trail encouraged children to get out of the house, enticed by fun trails and activities.

Written on their website:
Every trail will start at Base Camp where they will receive their Eggsplorer Kit featuring;
A Pith Hat – A ‘make it yourself’ Eggsplorer hat, to make sure your little adventurer looks the part.
Trail Journal – Containing their eggspedition trail map and clues so they stay on track.
Trail Passport – An essential log to record stamps collected along the trail and at other trails you attend.
After successfully completing the trail each Eggsplorer will be rewarded with a delicious Cadbury Egghead.
Kids can also enter our ‘Design Your Own Egghead’ competition, where one lucky winner’s design will be made into a real Cadbury Eggheads in 2015.

As you can see from the above description, there is a lot happening with this trail.  Creativity is certainly being encouraged with a lot of opportunities for children to make things.

The colours used to represent this trail are bright and colourful. The purple is so reconginsable as Cadbury, the sponsor. Vivid green and blues compliment this hue and make the designs appear bright, alive and exciting.
Two "mascots" feature across the design - a chick and a rabbit, obviously referencing Easter. They are humanized through clothing, while they are given items that link them back to the trail: binoculars and maps.

Activity sheets are also available. These are quick, fun activities for children to do if they grow bored. Many are Easter themed.
More can be found here:

This trail seems to focus more on printable activity sheets than directional signs or information boards. Teamwork and creativity is encouraged.

I have learned from looking at this example to make the most of the theme (this being Easter in this example) and run with it, finding ways to link your design back to the theme.