Phoebe Gardiner Ridunculous

  • Tauira / Student
    Phoebe Gardiner
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Antony Nevin, Karl Kane

With increasingly declining literacy rates in New Zealand, many children struggle to engage with learning within the typical classroom environment. Ridunculous has been developed with a focus on re-engaging at-risk tamariki through a uniquely physical approach to literacy. Stealthily disguised as a card game featuring scribbly illustrations and crazy ideas, Ridunculous is a literacy tool which approaches learning by breaking down the many social, sensory and emotional barriers that a classroom environment creates. This inclusive approach removes classroom pressures and takes reading outdoors - turning a book into a pack of cards and turning story writing into a game using large tiles. Based on research into kinesthetic learning, Ridunculous engages the entire body in the act of reading. The stories are read within the location they are set, allowing children to bring their own imagination, experiences and senses into their interpretation of the narrative. The game includes four card types, each one outlining a story snippet which is based upon a section of narrative structure. When one of each of the four card types are randomly combined, they will together create the framework for a bizarre story that's set within a school environment; the specific location of each story snippet appears on the reverse of the card. The child will select four cards and run to each designated location stopping to read and imagine the story snippet within that surrounding. The child will do this with all four cards and will then capture their inspired imaginings by using the Tale Tiles (large lightweight whiteboard surfaced tiles) to either draw or write the guts of the story which they themselves have conjured up. The tiles can be shuffled and rearranged until the child has laid out their unique tale, an exercise that can be done individually, in pairs, or played as a game with larger groups. Featuring giant snot balls, shrinking teachers and magic undies, the stories are set within the child’s own personal world, designed for adventurous Kiwi kids within an Aotearoa context. This stealthily gamified approach to teaching shifts focus away from how well a child can read or write to instead celebrate imagination, funny and bizzare ideas, or even how fast they can run. This shift allows those children who are falling behind in the classroom to have the chance to excel and to build confidence through participation. Strategically aligned with New Zealand’s reading and writing curriculum, Ridunculous targets areas of critical thinking, interpretation and application of personal context, all of which encourages improved learning outcomes across many aspects of literacy. Co-designed through discussions with primary school teachers, parents and people with neurodiversities, Ridunculous has been consistently underpinned by a strong understanding of the context surrounding inequities within educational achievement. The paper-based outcome recognises the cultural, financial, digital and social barriers which are commonly overlooked in educational tools and encourages a much needed shift away from digital interaction. The solution provides a realistic, financially feasible outcome for an increasingly demanding issue.