The video above was shown to the Product Design capstone class at Stanford University. This video emphasizes the user and the product, while the LDT-focused video (at the top of this page) discusses more of the learning problem and the influence of research on the design.

Duo Doodle by CollaborPlay is an artboard toy that lets young children mutually engage in pretend play.  While many children fight over the same space and toy, Duo Doodle divides property and territory equally so that the focus is on play rather than conflict. With the benefits of play and this toy, kids are developing pragmatic competence, oral language, and prosocial skills that will set them up for stronger social relationships later.

How does it work?

Each child sits on one side of the clear screen and decorates it as a scene.  Since it’s transparent, kids can see each other's perspectives and process, whether it's through drawing with erasable markers or by placing magnetic props and vinyl stickers. Each child gets one half of the magnet set--to stick on the screen, both children need to put the magnet up.  Through a share hole underneath the screen, children take turns using different colored markers. Each Duo Doodle also comes with two of every vinyl building so that there is still an opportunity for free, individual play besides drawing.

Toys seem to allow more freedom of interaction without the pressure that games might bring, with rules or correct ways of reaching the end goal. Toys are also portable--we made Duo Doodle quick to pack and clean up, allowing families to take this on the go!


The magnets are modes of transportation: Since the magnets can move around on the board (unlike the vinyl stickers, which are removable and reusable but more difficult to easily move), we wanted to mimic the movement of transportation like trains, planes, and cars. In addition, magnets let kids engage in co-action sequences, where they can perform the same action at the same time. Three different studies have shown that young children feel special pleasure and excitement when they perform these sequences (Buhler, 1939; Dunn and Kendrick, 1982; Greenwood, 1982).

Vinyl stickers

The vinyl stickers are buildings to set a scene.  We wanted to create a cityscape with transportation, as this is a familiar scenario to young children. Since buildings don’t move in real life, we used vinyl stickers that are less easily movable than the magnets--this is our attempt to represent the real movement of the actual object (Elder and Pederson, 1978). There are also other shapes (circle, triangle, square) for older children to create symbolic representations of real life objects (Elder and Pederson, 1978).

Challenge cards

With cards that issue challenges such as using the vinyl stickers to tell a story about cats, children can create open-ended scenes and stories with each other. Parents can scaffold their children's storytelling; at the same time, older children are adjusting their language to help teach their younger siblings how to perform an action or what to do in the story. Verbal communication at a young age largely falls in two categories--prohibitive and directive (Dunn, 1983). With challenge cards, older children are directing their younger, developing pragmatic skills (like knowing what the audience knows or doesn't know yet) while the younger is developing oral language skills.