CUBETALES by Hillary Hoe

CUBETALES is a constructive play system created to help develop preschoolers’ literacy skills at home. Designed by Hillary Hoe, CUBETALES grew out of a desire to increase the reading confidence in children through the use of sight word cards, bingo cards and erasable boards.

Hillary explains: “With the increasing emphasis on school readiness (the level of preparation for a preschooler’s transition into primary school), parents are increasingly concerned with their preschoolers’ literacy development. This is because they understand that literacy is key to excelling in various subjects – take Math for example, to tackle the question you have to first understand the question. What is literacy? It is the ability to make meaning, so as to build coherent stories whether when reading, writing or speaking. I’ve chosen to focus on the speaking part and studies have shown that children learn how to read and write when they practice expressing their thoughts orally while playing. Parents are trying to nurture their children’s literacy skills at home through various methods like reading with them, or even labelling objects around the house. What I would like to do here is to use play as a medium to set the conditions of literacy learning to enhance the learning experience.”

How do we play CUBETALES? “There are 2 suggested ways of playing, the first way is to draw 5 word cards, think of a story and build the landscape for the story simultaneously, and then demonstrate the story. The second way is more competitive, with children building up a landscape together, then filling up their bingo boards with things they see on the built landscape, then taking turns to use words on their boards to tell a story while striking them off and winning with 3 bingos. The cubes have 3 main features – some click or repel, some open up to store physical objects, and some have drawable surfaces. These are all to encourage children to bring in their own tangible/intangible elements and spark more stories. To add a more whimsical feel to the cubes, watercolour swatches have been scanned and digitally inserted into the graphics, giving the ocean a wavy look or the fishes a scale texture.”

Hillary’s final year project will be showcased at the NUS DID Grad Show 2016 which runs from 21 through 24 May at the National Design Centre.



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