Home Speech Therapy System for Young Children
How might we create a motivating, engaging, and rewarding learning experience for children with speech disorders?
Ploppi’s Bakery is a pedagogic tool developed in collaboration with speech therapists for children between 4 to 6 years old who are experiencing speech delay.
It is the result of a 2 week long sound design project at Umeå Institute of Design, spring 2016. Created together with Advance Product Design students Daan Hekking, Rik Oudenhoven, and Interaction Design student Hector Mejia.
My personal goal in this project was to further develop planning and arranging workshops, design research, sound design, model making, and animation skills.
Keywords: Design sprint, Sound design, Product Design, Interaction Design
Speech is something which normally develops within the first 3 years of our lives. Sometimes, this development is significantly delayed and underdeveloped. It is important to address the disorder as soon as it is identified.
Children can get valuable support and experience improvements in their development through stimulating speech exercises. These exercises are normally done by speech therapists. However, the accessibility and time spent together with speech therapists can be limited and irregular, which can affect the progress of the child’s speech development.
Ploppi creates opportunities where parents and child can bond through speech development and play. The system allows parents to take an active role and extend the the valuable speech therapy given by speech therapists into the home.
Through this, the parent empower and gives their child appropriate attention and support in their social development. The speech therapist will guide the parent and support the development through assigning appropriate speech assignments for the child during the normal, periodic visits.
The Final Concept | The Ploppi System
The Story of James and ploppi
James is on a mission: feeding his friend Ploppi who is so hungry his belly is rumbling. But, Ploppi only eats warm cookies! Let James show you his experience practicing his speech together with Ploppi and his parents in the concept video above.
* The actor that play James in this concept video experience speech challenges in real life. It was therefore particularly enjoyable to see that he got genuinely excited about Ploppi. As I was removing the cookies from Ploppi's belly, I also found some Smarties that the actor had shared.
Through an illustrated book, James get to know who Ploppi is and why he loves cookies so much. The book is meant to make the child connect with Ploppi beyond the speech exercises.
When it is time to practise speech, the parent sends out a "Ploppi is hungry" (Sound of a rumbling stomach) signal from the Ploppi's Bakery app.
James hears the signal and realizes that Ploppi is hungry. He knows that he now should bake his friend some cookies by doing speech exersises.
James bake Ploppi some cookies through placing an interactive Cookie Token on the tablet. When the Cookie has made contact with the tablet, the practicing mode initiates. The speech exercises are prepared by his speech therapist together with his parents.
James goes through the exercises and a pling will sound when he has completed enough. The cookie will no be baked and ready to be fed to Ploppi.
James feeds hungry Ploppi the prepared Cookie and Ploppi makes loud chewing sounds to express his happiness and gratitude to James.
Product | Ploppi's Bakery Kit
The kit consists of Ploppi the semi-interactive plushie, a children's book, a 21 interactive cookie tokens, and a series of customizable speech exercises which are accessed through an app. The kit is provided by the child’s speech therapist. The speech therapist assists the parent in setting up the application and creating a combination of tasks which are personally adjusted to the child’s level.
The team decided to switch the roles and let the interaction designer focus on product design and the product designers explore interaction design. My responsibility was to make and sew Ploppi and the cookies.
21 unique cookies
Making the cookie tokens were one of my responsibilities in the group project. I designed individual, different designs which I later printed onto high quality paper, laser-cut, and glued on-top circular plexiglass shapes to make them tangible for children's hand.
Excerpts from Ploppi's Bakery App
These are some of the screens from the Ploppi's Bakery App, designed by Hector Mejia. Hector has a background in programming, and could therefore create a functional app which we could use in our validaton and user testing.
Approach | Why Ploppi?
A child that has once failed to convey their message, might give up and stop trying.
how ploppi works
Ploppi’s Bakery is not only present during the speech exercises, but also during the child’s everyday life. Ploppi the plushie is designed to be the child’s friend through adventures of life. It is expected that the strong bond which will be built between Ploppi in the child will motivate the child to bake Ploppi cookies when Ploppi is hungry. Baking cookies while performing speech exercises makes the whole learning experience more motivating, engaging and rewarding compared to current speech exercises. The speech exercises today are often monotonous and lack possibilities for variation.
We have accomplished to shift speech exercises from a more academic “teacher-student” approach to a playful, stimulating and engaging experience. The context has shifted from the speech therapist’s office to the home. Ploppi’s Bakery offers greater variation and physical interaction compared to current solutions. Ploppi’s Bakery is designed to both motivate the child to perform speech exercises, challenge and engage the child to ensure that the exercises stays interesting, stimulate the child to achieve improved speech and reward the child in order to ensure that the child feels success and capability, as well as leaving the child with positive and empowering emotions after the exercise has ended.
Must be entertaining and challenging enough.
Each exercise session should only take 15 minutes.
The child should feel like they are mastering the speech exercise.
Extend the speech therapy done by professional speech therapists to the home.
The Making of Ploppi | Process
The greatest challenge was to develop a tool which would encourage the child to want to perform speech exercises. These exercises also required to be both challenging (in order to keep the child’s motivation up) and offer adequate speech therapy (to ensure progress and improvement). We wished to create a tool which would motivate the child to take the initiative to perform speech exercise and thereby shift the initiative from the parent to the child. In order to improve the child’s experience in the speech therapy context the motivation to perform should come from the child rather than the parent.
Parent motivates Child
Child motivates Parent
Traditionally the child has to become engaged by either their parents or their speech therapist to perform speech exercises. This relationship is shifted in Ploppi’s Bakery; the child engages themselves through reacting upon the Ploppi-is-hungry-cue sent out through Ploppi's rumbling tummy - from the Plopp-app of the parent. The child is asking instead of being asked to do daily speech assignments. In this way the child believes the initiative comes from itself and not the parent, and at the same time the parent will be ready to accommodate the child’s wish. This shift in perceived initiative will trigger the child’s motivation, joy and development when performing the speech exercises.
Research and validation
We did our research at the Språkstegen school in Umeå. We met with one of the pre-school teachers and a speech therapist to learn about the needs of children with speech delay and the challenges in teaching them to overcome their delay.
We also validated Ploppi by meeting speech therapists at the University Hospital in Umeå and together with our actors in the concept video, where the child actor experience speech delay himself.