Play goes hand-in-hand with childhood development. It is through play that children develop imagination, curiosity, and learn basic social structures and norms. Deeply embedded in the nature of play is a child’s need for narrative, whether through a book read by a parent at night, or through the stories that children make up when playing and building. However, since the arrival of the digital age, play and storytelling have become increasingly taken over by screen interaction. Children growing up today spend more time engaging with digital media, often as a provided distraction, and less time playing with physical objects and peers. But what if a balance between the two can be found by introducing technology in tandem with simple off-screen play?
Little Forest is a children’s storytelling app which encourages creative interaction by providing the child with the tools to bring stories to life from the screen. This is done by constructing interpretations of scenes from the stories in the app with an accompanying set of interchangeable cardboard scenes and characters. All of these scenes and stories revolve around the common theme of the enchanted forest. Together, the digital narrative and physical staging invite the child to build the story read from the app; this combination also allows the child the freedom to construct another narrative altogether either with the physical cutouts or digitally with the “build” option in the app.