Rachel Cunningham

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I am a graphic designer and illustrator based in Belfast. I have worked on a number of creative design projects. I consider myself to specialise in creating illustrated content across a range of projects suitable for multiple platforms.

I am eager to learn new skills and develop my existing creative knowledge further. I love my work and enjoy each project I work on. For my major project, I created a children’s mobile and tablet application called A-Zoo. A-Zoo helps children learn the alphabet at home through a journey around the zoo.

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A-Zoo is a children’s alphabet learning mobile and tablet application which is based around a day at the Zoo. A-Zoo has been designed to help young learners enhance their essential skills using the alphabet. A–Zoo integrates digital technology with the physical journey around the zoo. A-Zoo follows the user on a journey through the zoo, meeting many different animal characters along the way. The animals will help teach the user the letters of the alphabet by focusing on the letter which corresponds to their species e.g. A is for Ant.

A-Zoo aims to appeal to all the different learning styles, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Users will be asked to speak, listen and write each letter in order to suit the many learning methods used throughout schools.

A-Zoo aims to enhance the current traditional teaching methods of pen and paper by introducing a digital learning world for younger learners from the outset of their educational journey. A-Zoo enables users to learn about the letters of the alphabet at their own pace; users can revisit the same letter multiple times or continue to the consecutive letter.

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The Reason

More digital technology is being introduced to a younger audience and therefore making the creation of A-Zoo relevant. Children have access to smartphones and tablets enabling them to become much more computer literate from a young age.

A-Zoo was designed for children who are in early primary education who may be learning the alphabet for the first time. Usually, this is children aged 5-7. However, A-Zoo could also be used by children who are slightly older in age but who may struggle with reading and literacy. A-Zoo could enable them for further learning.

A-Zoo has a lot of potential to be integrated into classrooms and used highly as part of the early education programme, not only as a learning tool but also to help create a more digital-friendly environment within the classroom.

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The Process

"1 in 5 children in the UK cannot read well by the age of 11" — The Reading Agency.

For me, this was quite a startling figure and I knew there would be a way to increase this. Upon further research, I learnt that one of the main reasons children cannot read well from a young age is because they are unsure of the alphabet and the letters which make up each word. I knew A-Zoo would be able to improve these figures and had the potential to be a product that would help children learn the alphabet in a way which suited them best.

Before deciding on A-Zoo I knew my final project was going to be an alphabet learning application for young learners. However, after toying with many alternative titles and themes I decided that A-Zoo was the most suitable. I could use the animals around the zoo to teach children different letters. This is done using 26 different animal species, one for each letter of the alphabet.

A-Zoo also includes puzzles for children to revise the alphabet content they are learning. These puzzles include pairs, colouring In and an alphabet quiz.

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The Outcome

A-Zoo was illustrated using Procreate on my iPad. The iPad and iPhone prototypes were created using Flinto. Each individual animal character greets the children. Here they introduce themselves and their corresponding letter using a voice-over clip. Instructing the children to complete the learning programme for each letter by listening, writing and saying each letter before they can progress onto the next letter. Check out the prototype video on Vimeo.