Off the Block

Design Research
The task for this project was to create an educational game for children in an inner city, low income community called Woodhill located in Cleveland, Ohio. Most parents in the community work multiple jobs and don't have the time to ready their kids for kindergarten, leaving their kids unprepared and automatically behind the minute they set foot in a classroom. That is why the goal of this project was to create a game that would do just that, prepare the children to start school and give them confidence to succeed.

The Team

Emily Noland

Typography / Vinyl Production

Michele Hernandez

Illustrations / Photography

Yesenia Urquiza

Playing cards / Block production
“In the Woodhill community, only 7.9% of the kindergarteners are demonstrating readiness for kindergarten. In other words, kindergarten readiness in the Project Impact Area is low.”

From the Woodhill Needs Assessment provided by HUD


Our first step was to research kindergarten curriculum and what exactly needed to be included in our game in order for the kids to be "kinder ready." Of course, the alphabet, numbers, colors, and shapes were the obvious ones but we also found that emotions, senses and sight words such as "little," "funny," and "here," were equally important to include. From our research we also found it to be important to include different workplaces and careers, as well as different educational routes that they could take in order to get the kids thinking about their futures. Also, in an effort to make the game more personal and to teach the kids more about the city they live in, we chose animals that are commonly found in the area.


After realizing that technology and an internet connection is not readily available in the Woodhill community, we knew we had to take a more "old-school" approach for our game. And just like that, the idea of Off the Block was born. What's more old-school than wooden toys?


This was actually the second version of our game that we created. Our first version was sent up to Woodhill to be utilized by the children and  was very well received. However, when making the second (and final) version, we took feedback we received and simplified the colors, illustrations, and overall complexity of the game. Our simplified color palette was inspired by Cleveland street murals that are bright, energetic, and have higher contrast.
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