Family / Sesame Workshop
The simple act of playing with blocks can lead to significant improvements in the educational development of children. The learnings extend to both sides of the brain, from language comprehension to math skills. It’s also true that kids are more inclined to engage with blocks if there is an adult present to play with, respond to, and guide the child. Our friends at Sesame Workshop began to wonder if they could create a new type of play experience that allows kids to play with physical alphabet blocks while being guided by Grover . The answer, of course, turned out to be yes! Sesame Workshop partnered with Qualcomm and Two Bulls/DEPT® to get the job done.
Two Bulls/DEPT® co-designed and built the app and TV experiences for Grover’s Block Party. The game allows a 3D, virtual Grover to join children as they play with physical alphabet blocks. Grover provides passive input, reacts and interacts with players as he seamlessly moves them between goal-directed and free-play experiences based on their use of the blocks. Children can use blocks to spell words, introduce animated letters and cue footage from the extensive Sesame Street library. In this way, Grover’s Block Party pairs physical manipulative play with digital content to enhance literacy, math and logical reasoning.
Children were incredibly enthusiastic about Grover’s Block Party. In testing, 82% of children were very engaged and played with the blocks throughout the entire 40-minute session. If the researcher hadn’t stopped the sessions, the kids would have continued to play. Children responded to Grover and listened to him in the way a child might listen to a parent. Some children were even building to get a response from Grover because they wanted to “make him talk.” In 2014, the experience was put on display at the CES with a demo that featured a custom 52-block set paired with a tablet and smart TV.