O Dinos

O Dinos is a transmedia product that supports families in school preparation and scaffold children’s social and cognitive development through accompanying activities. O Dinos uses family-friendly dinosaurs in reimagining popular movie storylines to engage both parents and children aged 3-5. The stories not only foster cognitive and social development but also strengthen the parent-child bond. The companion app adds an extra learning layer by offering prompts and tips to parents to support their child's school readiness journey.


2022.10 - 2023.7 (Capstone Project)

My Role

UX Research, UX Design, Content Creation, Playtesting


Deepak Dennison (web app development, storybook printing, and video creation)


Qualtrics, Figma, Adobe Indesign, Gen AI, Next.js, Glide App

Why I Started this project

Having taught young children in preschool, I care deeply about children's learning. Knowing that not all families have the privilege to go to preschool, I wanted to help families embark on school-readiness journey more smoothly.

A Pressing Problem

in the u.s., over 50% of children are not ready for school

School readiness is a big predictor of academic success for children (Hayakawa el. al, 2013). However, 52% of children from low social economic status (SES) and 25% of medium and high SES children are not school-ready (Williams et. al., 2019).

Hayakawa, M., Englund, M., Warner-Richter, M., & Reynolds, A. (2013). Early parent involvement and school achievement: A longitudinal path analysis. HS Dialog: The Research to Practice Journal for the Early Childhood Field, 16(1).
Williams, P. G., Lerner, M. A., COUNCIL ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, & COUNCIL ON SCHOOL HEALTH (2019). School Readiness. Pediatrics, 144(2), e20191766.

While preschools teach school-readiness skills, not all families have the privilege to send their children to preschool.


Leverage parental engagement in school-readiness journey through storybooks and a companion Web app

Storybook series with school-readiness content, including pro-social behaviors, emergent numeracy, and emergent literacy.

Web app companion for parents to visualize different school-readiness skills covered in O Dinos storybooks and to learn more.

Design process overview

Phase 1: Understanding the problem and users

School-readiness in a nutshell

To understand what school-readiness entails, my teammate and I conducted the following research:

• Literature review on school-readiness skills
• Expert interview with principals of Bing nursery school
• Expert interview with child development professor

We learned that school readiness is a set of cognitive and socio-emotional skills that helps the children be successful in school both academically and socially. At preschool, cultivating social skills is especially emphasized in class. Moreover, leveraging parental engagement is key to promoting children's learning.

parental engagement promotes school-readiness

Specifically, there are 2 learning mechanisms related to parental engagement that can be utilized to promote children's learning:

Joint Media Engagement: The shared experience between caregivers and children while interacting with media to enhance learning and development.
Guided Participation: The collaborative interactions between a child and a more knowledgeable person to facilitate the child's learning and mastery of skills.

Journal of Family Psychology, 2016, Vol 30, No. 6, 752-759

Parents want quality learning time with children, but they don't know how to achieve that

To learn more about parents' perspectives of school-readiness, my teammate and I conducted the following research:
• 20 parenting surveys through Qualtrics
• 3 visits playgrounds to conduct interviews with parents
• 2 home visits to conduct interviews and observe interactions

We learned that many parents incorporate story time into their daily routine, and they view it as a sacred bonding time with educational values. Although parents want their children to learn, few of them know essential school-readiness skills children need for school. What's more, a majority of them feel guilty for not spending enough quality time with their children. The parents want more quality learning time with their children to help their children gain the best possible start for school.

Phase 2: Learning through prototypes

How might we best facilitate parent-child engagement and help children learn?

There are 2 main design challenges:

1. Parents often"zone out" when engaging with children's content

2. Parents do not know enough about school-readiness skills their children need to learn

Based on research from phase 1, storybooks are a preferred learning medium for parents and children. Therefore, the following prototypes are in storybook formats.

exploring Interactivity within storybooks

parents and children enjoy interactive tasks

We experimented with simple book prototypes tested them with 2 parents.

We also learned from librarians that dinosaurs are among the top 3 most popular themes for children. Hence, we changed our main character from a kangaroo to dinosaurs.

But certain tasks can be distracting

The second iteration contained activities for children to engage with their surrounding and opportunities for parents to engage with tasks by sticking egg stickers. We even dabbled with gen AI to provide songs and customizations to the overall experience.

However, children can quickly get distracted by their surroundings, especially when they have fun toys near them. We also found the parents not very engaged in the storyline because it didn't have a strong plot.

Therefore, in phase 3, I rewrote the storyline and designed torso-up activities that can keep children engaged in the story without distraction.

1. Parents often"zone out" when engaging with children's content [Found a solution!]

2. Parents do not know enough about school-readiness skills their children need to learn

Phase 3: Building an engaging solution

With insights from phase 1 and 2, we aligned our goal of designing storybooks that are engaging for parents and children. After a lot of ideation and prototyping, we realized the power of nostalgiacreating captivating experiences for adults. We decided to leverage this feature into our storybooks by incorporating elements from classical movies from the parent's generation.

To expedite the illustration process, I used our in-house AI image generator to create the backgrounds, and I drew the dinosaur figures on the foreground.

To address parents' needs to learn more about school-readiness, we also developed a companion web app prototype using a no-code platform for the parents to understand the different school readiness skills with tips backed by research.

1. Parents often"zone out" when engaging with children's content [Found a solution!]

2. Parents do not know enough about school-readiness skills their children need to learn  [Found a solution!]

Design features

1. nostalgic elements

These elements, like the classic Titanic pose and the train to a magic school, serve as little easter eggs to keep parents engaged in the storybook.

2. talking nudges

Sentences highlighted in yellow serve as talking nudges to encourage parents and children to engage in short discussions.

3. Tasks for children

Tasks For Children allow parents to provide scaffolding for children and facilitate guided participation.

4. Companion web app

Parents can learn more about different school-readiness themes and pro-tips through the web app companion.

Learner testing

Pre and post study surveys

We tested our storybook and the web app prototype with 8 families. We divided the testing process into 3 stages to assess the effectiveness of O Dinos.

Stage 1. Pre-study survey

• All participating parents read storybooks with their children at least 2 times a week.
• Parents do not understand the different components of school-readiness.

Stage 2. Playtesting

• 2 parents skipped through the instruction page on how to use interactive tasks and the web app.
• Both parents and children engaged in the reading process and completed at least 50% of activities.

Stage 3. Post-study Survey

• Both parents and children loved the interactive nature of the product.
• Parents found the storybook to be more engaging compared to the other storybooks they read to their children.
• Parents learned more about their children through the prompts and activities.

overall reception

presenting to a broader audience

O Dinos was well-received by various stakeholders including families, educational researchers, and children's media specialists in the Bay Area.

Moving Forward

I'm planning on adding vignettes for parents' companion web app so that parents can better digest the pro-tips. Updates will be posted on our web app. I'm also planning on publishing O Dinos storybooks.

Feel free to learn more about O Dinos through its web page. Stay tuned!