Rationale for Injini Child Development Game Suite design
With the advent of technology, young children live in a world with abundant simulation from visual and graphic information. The Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood Education concluded after a three-year study that children with special needs benefit from using computers to build social skills, communication skills and self-confidence.1Research from Head Start programs emphasizes the significance of technology in offering more opportunities for children to explore, helping them transition between concrete and abstract thinking, and promoting cooperation among children.2
Technology and game-based play are well known to keep children engaged in learning. Research shows that people read images3 and that when schools use multimodal possibilities for children to learn, there is room for children to demonstrate their strengths in reading and writing4. Hence, developing a suite of games for the latest electronic devices was our idea for both motivating and creating a successful medium for children with special needs to learn and play. We understand that a child’s overall development encompasses many aspects, including motor skills (fine and gross), social/emotional skills, communication skills and cognition skills. Due to the nature of handheld touchpad-based devices, Injini focuses primarily on fine motor skills, social/emotional skills, communication skills and cognition skills.
The Injini games have been hand picked and crafted based on the design and benchmarks comparison of successful preschool programs and early intervention curriculums practiced in the United States.5 The initial suite of Injini games includes Puzzles, Pattern, Matching, Find It, Squares, Frog, Farm, Balloons, and Tracing. Research shows that children’s play can be linked to developing skills such as memory, self-regulation, oral language abilities, social skills, and success in school (e.g., Squares, Find It, Farm).6 Injini games follow this developmental path with games designed for as early as 1-2 years, beginning with the opportunity to make their own choices and learn about cause-and-effect. 7 By ages 2 and 3, children begin to scribble as precursors to writing skills; the fine motor movement involved in Injini games (e.g. Frog, Tracing) provides such an arena to practice this skill. 7 Injini Pattern games reinforce a mathematics and number awareness skill that children develop in preschool and kindergarten. During that age, children also learn to discriminate visual differences, a skill practiced in Injini Matching games as well as Balloon games.7 Additional games that target a broader range of skills will be included in the future.
Studies show that in the Western middle class, parents often use play with young children as a context for teaching.8 The intervention objective for the child through the Injini application is to learn specific developmental and functional skills with the involvement of an adult (when possible) by using modeling, prompting, elicited imitation or extrinsic reinforcement. Such interactions encourage children to become active learners9, providing opportunities for them to explore and discover new concepts for themselves. The goal of the Injini games is to support children’s natural curiosity with a child-friendly platform that develops age-appropriate skills and creates opportunities to share their play with family and friends.
1. Hutinger, Patricia L., & Johanson, Joyce. (2000). Implementing and maintaining an effective early childhood comprehensive technology system. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 20(3), 159-173. Cited in Lynch and Warner (2004). Computer Use in Preschools: Directors’ Reports of the State of the Practice. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 6(2). Retrieved from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v6n2/lynch.html
2. Fischer, Melissa Anne, & Gillespie, Catherine Wilson. (2003). Computers and young children’s development. Young Children, 58(4), 85-91. Cited in Lynch and Warner (2004). Computer Use in Preschools: Directors’ Reports of the State of the Practice. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 6(2). Retrieved from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v6n2/lynch.html
3. Kress, Gunther, & van Leeuwen, Theo. (1996). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. London: Routledge. Kress, Gunther; Jewitt, Carey; Ogborn, Jon; & Charalampos, Tsatsarelis. (2001). Multimodal teaching and learning: The rhetorics of the science classroom. London: Continuum. Cited in Kabuto (2009). Color as semiotic resource in early sign-making. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 11(2). Retrieved from
4. Vincent, John. (2006). Children writing; Multimodality and assessment in the writing classroom. Literacy, 40(1), 51-57. Cited in Kabuto (2009). Color as semiotic resource in early sign-making. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 11(2). Retrieved from
5. The following programs/curriculum were studied to understand the priorities of developmental skills practiced in daycares, preschools, early intervention centers and elementary programs: Lovaas, Hawaii (Portage, Carolina), Trans-disciplinary Play Based Intervention, Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System for Infants and Children, Floor Time, Responsive Teaching, Enabling and Empowering Parents, Creative Curriculum, HELP assessment and Early start Denver model.
6. Cited from National Association For the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) position statement. Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/position%20statement%20Web.pdf
7. School Sparks. “Classroom Expectations.” Retrieved from http://www.schoolsparks.com/early-childhood-development/classroom-expectations
8. Farver, Jo Ann. (1993). Cultural differences in scaffolding pretend play: A comparison of American and Mexican mother-child and sibling-child pairs. In Kevin MacDonald (Ed.), Parent-child play: Descriptions and implications. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Rogoff, Barbara. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. New York: Oxford University Press. Vandermaas-Peeler, Maureen. (2002). Cultural variations in parental support of children’s play. In Walter J. Lonner, Dale L. Dinnel, Susanna A. Hayes, & David N. Sattler (Eds.), Online readings in psychology and culture (Unit 11, Chapter 3). Bellingham: Center for Cross-Cultural Research, Western Washington University. Cited in Vandermaas-Peeler, Jackie Nelson, & Charity Bumpass. “Quarters Are What You Put into the Bubble Gum Machine”: Numeracy Interactions during Parent-Child Play. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 9(1). Retrieved from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v9n1/vandermaas.html
9. Bruner, J.S. “From Cognition to Language: A Psychological Perspective.” In The Social Context Of Language, edited by I. Markova. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1978. Cited in Oden (1987). The Development of Social Competence in Children. ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, ED281610. Retrieved from http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/social.htm