Participatory Design: the Pictionary activity

The Pictionary techniques is an elicitation method to evaluate which concepts children are familiar with and explore their embodied representations of those specific concepts. We suggest its usage in the initial stage of the design process, by involving children as co-designers to properly frame the experience.

The technique is based on using the mechanics of the board game Pictionary and using terms related to the addressed learning goals. Specifically, one child per time is asked to randomly pick-up one of the terms and to represent it through drawings on a whiteboard. The other children have one minute to guess it. In our studies, this technique showed to offer relevant affordances to grasp children’s representations across different modes. Furthermore, it showed to be particularly effective when associated with a careful analysis of the specific formal features of their drawings and their embodiment during the task (e.g. gestures, facial expression). The playful nature of the activity makes it engaging for children and its time-based structure avoids that they focusing too much on surface details. As a consequence, we suggest that this technique may represent a useful tool to grasp children’s conceptions around a specific topic in a playful and “quick-and-dirty” way.