Lolomabox Project : an intiative to provide a platform for young children to self organise learning and a means to recover from toxic stress : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a Master in Design at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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The project titled 'Lolomabox' is an initiative to help add to interactive learning tools through a human-centred design approach for preschoolers, primarily those that face a dearth of explorative learning and creative pedagogy. The catalyst to undertaking Lolomabox Project is my witness to the practice of mechanical rote learning in early childhood education in my home country and its existence in multiple nations. The research is in partnership with Tearfund New Zealand with links to Homes of Hope in Fiji that rehabilitates young women from sexual abuse. Some women leave the rehabilitation centre with their children aged between 2- 4 years who have limited access to learning tools before formal schooling. Lolomabox is about creating engaging study aids that help children establish connections with their environment through interactive play-based learning. The investigation into contextual research commences with studying Friedrich Frobel and his Kindergarten Gifts (interactive early learning tools), scientific studies conducted by numerous institutions on the role of parenting and trauma in childhood, and learning about examples of effective preschool education. An experiential trip to Fiji led to the identification of learning opportunities in various cultural elements such as the Masi print that applies basic shapes to tell intricate stories. The design output is an interactive kit inspired by the shapes of the Square, Triangle and Circle to help instigate storytelling by children. It starts with the characterisation of the three shapes in order to establish personal connections, through a comical approach to Bauhaus inspired aesthetics. The kit then aims to facilitate storytelling by children, after they draw knowledge from the introduction to the shapes, through interactive jigsaw pieces. The production of the kit uses minimal physical and linguistic elements to lend a universal approach. The vision is to see children observe what is around them with curiosity and be able to form their thoughts into tangible expressions with play-based learning tools that are open-ended and non-conforming.