One thing you hear us say at No Crusts is, “Think about the audience.” Designing for a four year-old is radically different than designing for a nine year-old, and both are a big leap from designing for an adult. When resources and schedule allow, doing kid testing is always an ideal option — nothing will give you better information about your product than seeing kids actually use it and being able to ask them about their experience. However, whether it be for reasons of budget, schedule, or client preference, kid testing isn’t always feasible.
The good news is that in these days of the internet, there are a wealth of resources on child development just a click away that provide a lot of insight into different age groups, their abilities, and interests. These resources provide a refresher course on what kids are up to at different ages and stages of development. So here a few of our favorites, some “go-to” sites that can help make your products better and more usable for kids.
Housed on the PBS Parents site, this site provides an age-by-age guide to development for children 1-8, divided by categories such as Literacy, Physical Health, and Social and Emotional Growth.
Parenting web sites like Babycenter provide age-specific guidelines, often broken down to the month of age, and suggest activities and resources for children of different ages.
This enormous digital library of journal publications, books, conference papers, and other articles focuses on educational materials and is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences and the United States Department of Education.
The Common Core State Standards, currently adopted in forty-five states, provide guidelines for what children should master in each grade level from K-12. These guidelines are currently for English language and mathematics only.
CCT’s reports and presentations address a wide range of topics, from models for evaluating educational technology to assessments of specific instructional programs.
Based in the UK, Future Lab at NFER does research and school development as well as provides resources on digital media’s relationship to education.
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop does original research on educational innovations and posts their reports on their site.
The Fred Rogers Center Ele is an online space geared to provide resources about children from to 5, specifically in the areas of Early Literacy and Digital Media Literacy.
As I mentioned in a prior post, YouTube is a great and often overlooked resource. There are tons of videos of children playing games of all kinds and a bit of poking around may well provide you with some illuminating information that applies to your project. Not to mention the number of conference presentations that are also publicly available, like my talk on development guidelines from Casual Connect.
So, those are a couple of our favorite child development resources. I hope you’ll find them as helpful as we do, and if you have others to recommend, please drop us a line at kidsGotGame@noCrusts.com or @noCrusts on Twitter. We’ll also be at several upcoming conferences, including iKids/Kidscreen, Digital Kids, Toy Fair, Indiecade East, GDC, Sandbox Summit, and others, so if you’d like to meet up, reach out!