Sneha Makini

One of the strongest observations in child language learning is that for a new word to be learned, a semantic association of the word needs to be made beforehand, most often in the form of a picture. Picture Blocks is an interactive and social language learning application for young children. In addition to the pedagogical uses of pictures in the learning process, in a world where words turn into emojis, Picture Blocks helps children type out the picture they’re trying to create, in a constructivist manner. It includes learning through a holistic process of correlating semantics, text, and speech.

Picture Blocks learns meaningful associations between words through machine learning, and provides more information to the child as to what context this picture or word appears in. An example could be anything from rabbits being associated with carrots, to an astronaut being associated with the moon. Some of the design decisions involve personalized scaffolding based on the child’s learning in-app, social sharing, and how to provide a richer interaction experience through physical feedback. Our goals are to test whether providing meaningful associations and playfulness helps assist children in terms of vocabulary, spelling, diction, association and language learning. Most importantly, the goal is to design and test a modern relationship with pictures and words for children that isn’t out there yet.