An interactive book about emotions for children.

Alex Penman
8 weeks


When asked “How was your day?”, children often answer “good”, “bad” or sometimes, “I don’t want to talk about it”.
Children don’t have the vocabulary to express emotions – an abstract concept. How do parents know a ‘good’ day can sometimes have a bit of ‘sad’ and ‘nervous’ layered under it?
So when do children really learn to express their feelings? 

This project is my exploration to try and answer this question.


‘Cori’ is an interactive book for children ages 6-8 to help build their emotional skills. Children embark on an endearing journey with Cori to learn about different emotions. Through a range of fun activities, Cori guides them to express themselves better, reflect and take action on their emotions. Cori also includes activities to engage parents, helping them keep track of their children’s emotional journey. Eventually, Cori helps children gain confidence and resilience in a world of continuous re-skilling.


Initial Research
The research kickstarted with an observation- parents spend up to 8 hours away from their children (as young as 2 years of age) on working days. These are precious moments of their child’s early development that are being spent away.
Along with desk research, I visited a Danish forest kindergarten, a Danish primary school (focusing on teaching through music) and an International School in Copenhagen. I carried out observation sessions on how children learn and express themselves in these different settings. I extensively interviewed pedagogues, teachers and parents to understand the important elements crucial (according to them) for early child development, and used mapping and card sorting tools to gain insights.

● Being confident is the most important attribute for a child to develop at an early age (ages 6-8). This initiates collaboration, self-awareness, self-expression, and communication.
● In order to have a holistic perspective towards skill development for children, it is important to have an approach based on thoughts, feelings and actions to hone their emotional skills.

The LEGO Foundation works on the importance of learning through play in early child development. Play based learning can strengthen cognitive skills, socio-emotional wellbeing and build a strong foundation for success. Using these guidelines, I adopted play as my guiding principle for this project.
Read about it here.


Skill development best happens through sensory stimulation


Children must experience agency and be supported rather than directed


Children should experience moments of joy and surprise, be active and absorbed

Research through Co-creation
As children were the central focus of my research, I needed to understand their perspective.
I designed a few tools to help me gauge
● their interests and engagement levels
● what prompts work and what don’t

Each tool was designed to answer a specific investigative question.


Who and what does a child’s world consist of?
(This was the most crucial activity to design. It was essential to gain the child’s trust and get them interested and comfortable with me- a complete stranger who in some cases didn’t speak the same language.)


Do children understand what emotions mean?


How do children express themselves?

These tools became prototypes,

for two children,
for over two weeks.

On careful documentation by the parents, and an interview with a child behavioural psychologist, I identified that though these prototypes were valuable in helping children express themselves better, there was a big gap in empowering them to take action on their emotions. Through a series of more sacrificial prototypes and co-creation sessions with the children, I kept building and altering my concept from what I learnt.

Future Developments

● Cori as a collection of interactive skill development books for children
● It could also exist as a skill development website for children
● Cori can help children gain confidence and become resilient by being available as open-source skill-building tools
● Cori could be used as a friendly companion tool to conduct research with children

‘Cori- Happy, sad, how can Cori help if you are feeling mad?’

was designed, developed, illustrated, printed and hand-bound at CIID.
This project received honours for the CIID- Interaction Design Programme (IDP) 2019 exams.


This project could not have been possible without two of the most willing, excited, truthful and happy children I got the privilege to spend a lot of time with, learn and grow tremendously from.
Thank you Poppy and Rhys!

Jacek Barcikowski, Dan Hill, Eilidh Dickson

Elena Gianni, Tobias Toft, Ulrik Hogrebe, Andreas Refsgaard

Alex Penman, Irene and Jason Edwards,
Federico Peliti, Arunima Singh, Aditi Mehta, Bernadette Gregson,
IDP2019, CIID faculty and staff.