House Planner

An application for children to train planning ability 





This project focus on designing an application— House planner with tablets which can train children’s planning ability. 



Much of everyday activity for children do engage planning, such as deciding upon and planning play activities, personal care (e.g., what to wear to exercise), and household responsibilities (e.g., when to wash dishes). Because planning plays an indispensable role in children’s everyday functioning, it is critical to establish a strong foundation as it develops. The application design is based on observation, interview and literature reviews. 

Target User

Project type

Personal project

My role


UX researcher

UI designer


3 months

The target users are fined as 5- years-old to 7-years-old children. They already have a foundation of the three core executive functions (Inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility) and basic planning skill, and the design of application will help them freely practice it together. 






For discovering children's need,  I went to Austin Public Library to observe children. Through observation, I can realize how children interact with technological devices.



After observing four children within 5-7 years-old, I found out three points: 


Children seek for feedback.

Children are not satisfied with the visual feedback of computers' screen, they also wear earphone to receive audio feedback. After they click, they usually wait seconds for further feedback.


Children like the game can make by themselves.

Children like to control the game by themselves. Games like building and drawing are popular since these games allow children to realize their creativity.


Children are easily distracted.

If the games are not attractive or too easy, children are readily bored. In addition, they are simply affected by their surroundings and lose their engagement in games.



The goal of interviewing is to understand what characters their others family members are when they interacting with technological devices, what scenario are when children interact with technological devices when they are at home or school, and what preference children have when they chose a game.


After observed, I Interviewed with children and their family members who come with them. (Usually are parents or grandparents)


Tablet is a good choice for children.

Tablets are children-friendly devices since they do not require complex motor skills or difficult protocols around keyboard use and mouse-clicks. In addition, the weight of Tablets makes children can easily bring with them.

social interaction.png

Social interaction is important for children.

Children like to share games with their parents and siblings. No matter good (earn a badge) or bad (meet difficulties) things. Furthermore, they enjoy the games which have a choice for multiplayer. 


Avatar game is an appealing design for children.

Children enjoy the games which they can select their characters. Besides, they like to interact with the virtual characters in the games.


Purpose & Ideas

To understand what is difference and importance between design for adult and child, I review paper, article, and research to support my design.  For achieving the goal that improving children planning ability, I develop the design components in my application which following by several critical theories.


Abundant Feedback

Children love visual and auditory feedback whenever they do anything in a digital space. Furthermore, 6-years-old to 8-years-old children love to gather and collect stuff (Gelman, 2014).

Leveling Up

Children delight in challenge and conflict. The added challenge makes the accomplishment more significant for kids, and also make the games more exciting and fun.
(Gelman, 2014)

Avatar & 
Embodied Agent

Through avatars, users embody themselves and make real their engagement with a virtual world (Taylor SE, Brown JD., 1988). The contingent social interaction between children and embodied are significant for learning in young audiences (Brunick, K.L et al, 2016).

3 Executive

Planning is a higher-order executive function which is built on three core executive functions: inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility (Collins & Koechlin 2012, Lunt et al. 2012). 

4 Pillars of

Four well-agreed-upon pillars of learning at the core of the learning sciences have remained steady through the decades. Humans learns best when the four pillars are satisfied. The four pillars are: active learning, engagement, meaningful learning and social interaction (Hirsh- Pasek et al, 2015).



According to the observation, interview and literature reviews, I produce persona to help myself develop the application based upon the needs and goals of my target users. 




After defining the persona, I follow the results obtained from previous studies to produce a wireframe of the application according to Robert's needs.


Keep the interface clean, a user icon shows children can log into their avatars.


Children can choose their avatar and name it. In addition, dress up by themselves.

Level 1.jpg

Children should move the pieces from right bottom corner to the big square according to the picture hint at the right top corner.


When children correctly build the house, the screen will have visual and sounds' feedback.


The embodied agent — Larry dog will bring them candy as a reward. After children collect five candies, they can leveling-up to next level.



What I learned?

Defining children's age is critical when designing for children.

Designing for children is challenging since they change a lot within a short period, and every developmental stage is very different. As a result, clarifying the age and understanding what ability children have and don't have at this period is the cornerstone of design.

Interviewing children needs more patience.

Before interviewed with children, it took time to let them get familiar with me since some of them are shy and afraid of strangers. In addition, when interviewing with children, something I couldn't easily understand what they said. It was better to use the words they used to ask them again. 

The literature reviews are good resources to understand children.

Before designed the game, literature reviews helped me to understand children’s biological development, executive functions and learning theories. This resources gave me confidence that my design was on the right way.