Encourage your children to mutually engage through pretend play.
Who Are We?
We are collaborplay.
Hello! I'm Jennifer, a graduate of the Product Design and Mathematics programs at Stanford. After volunteering teaching preschool children at my church, tutoring middle school students, and designing kid-friendly museum exhibits, I realized that I love working with children. During my time at Stanford, I followed my passion for education and design through my projects and extra-curricular activities. This past year, I taught creative writing workshops for third graders and helped out at Bing nursery school. I am extremely excited to introduce Duo Doodle after many months of research and development.
I'm Vivian, a Master's student in the Learning, Design and Technology program at Stanford. Through various teaching and curriculum design experiences with 3 year olds to 12th graders, I realized that working with children and youth gave me a purpose that I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life! I'm so excited to be able to work on this project with my good friend, research and apply that learning, and meet awesome families in the Bay Area (and beyond)!
Shy children growing up, we are currently interested in fostering strong sibling relationships and creative expression!
What's the Need?
In a survey of over 30 parents, we learned that kids don’t really play with toys with their siblings because many toys aren't conducive to cooperative play. When they try to play with the same toy, it’s likely that they will end up fighting, as this is one of the most common child-related issues that parents report (Brody, 1998). In addition, young children have not quite developed Theory of Mind to take different perspectives (Wellman, 1990). When they fight, it's hard to see both sides.
We met with 12 families, and each family wanted their children to learn social skills, language skills, and empathy from each other. Especially with children who are at different personalities or temperaments (Brody, 1998), parents commented that a concern was being able to keep both entertained at the same time since interests and abilities vary. Moreover, it’s difficult to keep children from fighting, and conflict resolution is usually left up to the parents. At the same time, they want their children to have the opportunity to productively play together and develop concept and language skills (Brody, 1998). Essentially, busy parents of multiple children aged 3-6 want their children to play well together because resolving conflict over ineffective sharing doesn’t allow enough time to focus on expression and creativity.
Why is This Important?
For preschool-aged siblings, this interaction is an opportunity to develop emotion expression, self-control, sharing skills, and conflict resolution (Gibbs, 1993).
Parents play a large role in calming sibling fights, but studies also show that when mothers are more present, children engage in more agonistic behaviors, and the younger child imitates more (Corter et al., 1983). When parents attempt to resolve conflict for children, the young children learn to rely on a mediator to fix the situation. By placing children in a situation where they are urged to share certain props and agree on placement of objects, we hope that they will develop the skills to resolve conflict on their own.
Prosocial behavior, such as cooperating, sharing, helping, and consoling, helps children develop perspective-taking skills and empathy (Barry and Wentzel, 2006; Csoti, 2009). Developing prosocial skills helps with later academic achievement and social relationships (Caprara, et al., 2000).
Pretend play is an important part of development for preschool children, as research shows that dramatic play in free-play settings are correlated with role-taking tasks, cooperation with adults and peers, and less aggressive social interactions (Fein, 1981).
In a study done by Harkness (1977), young children who were 4-8 made appropriate and effective communicative adjustments based on their younger 2-3 year old siblings' linguistic level. Developing pragmatic competence, or knowing how to use language in social contexts, is correlated with stronger social relationships and fewer internalizing and externalizing behaviors (Coplan, 2006).
Dialogue with other children and parents can extend “higher mental functions” by learning how others use language, and they then think together to create dialogue (Mercer, 2002), eventually creating their own “inner speech” without scaffolding from others (Vygotsky, 1978).
Since parents are better at scaffolding language development than preschool aged older siblings (Brody, 1998), we want to help parents play alongside their child and ask guiding questions.
Further Vocabulary development
Our hope is that by physically manipulating objects (or representations of objects), they will develop language skills and correctly map words to the represented objects (Glenberg et al., 2004). Although our props are not perfect representations of the actual objects (such as planes, trains, and cars), especially by 3.5 years old, children can still identify these objects and engage in pretend play (Elder and Pederson, 1978). During play, the availability of toy props and action create a context that supports the child’s plot construction (Ilgaz and Aksu-Koc, 2005).