CHI Play || Paper Ladder

Cristina Sylla, Elena Márquez Segura, Akeiylah DeWitt, Ahmed Sabbir Arif, Eva Irene Brooks

In user studies with children, it is important to use age appropriate evaluation tools to better understand their preferences, opinions, and thoughts. Here, we studied two accepted evaluation tools: The Five Degrees of Happiness, and the Sticky Ladder rating scales; together with the Paper Ladder, a paper version of the latter. Thirty-six preschoolers rated two creative and play activities (painting and construction blocks) and a game (the musical chairs) in terms of difficulty, enjoyment, and preference. Drawing from theories of embodied and distributed cognition, we performed a video analysis of the children’s interactions with these tools, focusing on how each tool supported the children’s cognitive processes and communication with the researcher. Here, we first describe children’s embodied behavior and discuss how these were supported by design features and affordances of the tools. Then, we discuss strengths and shortcomings of each evaluation method. Last, we provide recommendations for their design, appropriation, and usage by researchers developing and evaluating playful solutions and games for children. 

CHIPLAY – Presentation


Design Recommendations

Paper Ladder

– Print a ladder that fits on an A4 paper with wider rungs. This will allow placing tokens together on the same rung;

– Glue the A4 paper with the printed ladder onto a cardboard. It will allow holding the ladder vertically to evoke associations to real live ladders, explaining and understanding the rating method;

– Draw the floor below the ladder, to also strengthen real-world ladder associations.

– Glue the paper pieces with the printed activities onto cardboard cutouts, which are easier to handle, more like objects, more robust, and durable than paper pieces.

Sticky Ladder

– Create rungs that are “velcroable” in their entirety (and not just the center) and long enough to allow several tokens on the same rung. 

– Avoid gluing the Velcro onto the cloth as this will not be sturdy enough to endure several placing/removing of the items under evaluation.  

Five Degrees of Happiness Rating Scale

– Visualize the activity being rated either through a drawing next to the questionnaire scale, or using tokens (e.g. placing them next to the questionnaire);

– For sustainability reasons, use a tablet to capture answers. Alternatively, a re-usable notebook sized whiteboard.


Cristina Sylla, Elena Márquez Segura, Akeiylah DeWitt, Ahmed Sabbir Arif, Eva Irene Brooks. 2019. Fiddling, Pointing, Hovering, and Sliding: Embodied Actions with Three Evaluation Tools for Children. In Proceedings of the 2018 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY ’19). ACM, New York, NY, USA,

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