TellTaleMike Ananny, Jean Barnwell, Professor Justine Cassell, and Professor Hiroshi Ishii / 2001

TellTale

TellTale is a story construction kit for children. Its goal is to help youngsters create and experiment with the structure and content of oral language in way similar to how written text is composed. The design consists of a number of modular body components and one head piece that are used to record and play audio segments created by a child, or by several children. The body parts can contain stories or story fragments that can be combined in different orders to create new narrative configurations, letting children experiment with plot, transitions, endings, beginnings — basically, anything they can imagine. In essence, it’s a “tangible story processor” for children who have stories to tell but who might not yet have the skills necessary to communicate their ideas in writing. User studies suggest that TellTale’s segmented structure helps children use body pieces as “linguistic containers.” They oral stories they compose with TellTale are indicative of later written literacy skills: they are longer, more cohesive (with fewer disfluencies and more conjunctive phrases) and contain “better formed” beginnings and endings than stories created with a non-segmented interface.