Making a Difference in the New Year

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Given all the twists and turns of the past few months, we’re wondering exactly what the rest of 2017 has in store. We know we’re not alone! We recently participated in the Women’s March in New York and were overwhelmed by the incredible passion and energy of our fellow marchers. The experience reminded us of the importance of civic engagement and the power that people have when they come together. As we continue to design projects related to education and publishing, we can’t help thinking about this spirit of engagement as a goal for our work. Collaboration is our favorite part of the design process, and good design—with the goal of elevating the lives of its users—is almost by definition democratic. Many of the projects we’ve worked on over the past year touched on these themes, and we hope to build on this aspect of our practice in 2017.

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Our Fall Reading List, 2016

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Our recent design work focuses on education (read the latest on Li’l Stories here), and a big part of what we do involves getting kids to love reading. It goes without saying that we love reading as well—and it’s most definitely not all for work. We’re always looking for new books that will help us discover a fresh idea or give us a different perspective on the world. For this edition of our annual reading list, we asked our colleagues at Civic Hall, the collaboration center for civic tech innovators in New York, if they could recommend any titles that resonated with them over the past year.

The selected books explore subjects as varied as creativity, business and how to evolve the workplace to make it better for women, to time-traveling thrillers and a personal memoir about the impact of race. The suggestions may give you a few gift ideas just in time for the holidays, or a title to get lost in during a little downtime.

When we were putting together this list over the past month, we were expecting a very different outcome to the presidential election. The results have been a shock, and if we assembled another list right now it might be very different. But we like to think that whatever challenges the world holds in the coming years, we’ll always be able to find refuge, and inspiration, in a good book. In this spirit, we’d like to share our 2016 list. You can also find the selections on our bookshelf. Read More

Learning from Li’l Stories

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Original posted on Li’l Stories’ blog.

Since the launch of Li’l Stories earlier this year, we’ve been busy working on the next twists and turns of the storytelling project. We’ve fulfilled 99% of our Kickstarter rewards and have donated — thanks to our remarkable 144 Kickstarter backers and to you, friends of Li’l Stories — an astonishing 122 story pads to 12 elementary schools (encompassing 25 classrooms) and the Children’s Museum of the Arts.

Now, with students back in class for the fall, we’ve had a chance to see how Li’l Stories is coming to life as it is introduced in classrooms. We’ve learned a lot about how educators and parents are using the framework and would like to share these lessons and how they’ve helped pivot and shape our plans for the future. We hope you enjoy the read and might find a helpful tip if you’re using Li’l Stories with your students or child. Read More

A Year of Beginnings

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Once upon a time—specifically, almost a year ago, in winter 2014—we had the idea for an educational framework that utilized the power of storytelling to help teach communication skills to children. A year later, Li’l Stories is being used by educators at several schools around the country. As 2016 begins, we would like to thank everyone who supported the project and helped make it a reality, especially those who backed our Kickstarter campaign, which exceeded its goal and was successfully funded at an incredible 143 percent! Your support has allowed Li’l Stories to reach thousands of students, giving them the opportunity to start the beginnings of their own narratives—as storytellers and lifelong communicators. Read More

Prototyping Stories

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As every parent or teacher knows, kids have little to no filter when it comes to saying exactly what they think. This remarkable freedom made them the perfect collaborators for Li’l Stories (currently on Kickstarter), a new educational tool that helps teach first through third graders to express themselves through visual, spoken and written storytelling. Li’l Robin and its founder Anke Stohlmann had the opportunity to work with children as part of the process of developing Li’l Stories. The kids were an integral part of the project, and aided us immeasurably in creating something that they and their teachers can use in the classroom or at home.

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