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How the education storytelling game Happy Zebra was mode

10 Aug 2019

How this project was started?

This website and app is the result of 12 months of hard work. Everything started when my wife was pregnant with our first daughter. One day, we were watching a movie called Black Beauty. The connection with horses

Watching the Black Beauty (1999) was the epiphany that I needed to create Happy Zebra

Everything was started after I watched a movie called Black Beauty that made me fall back in love with horses, and animals. I always loved animals and we kept different type of animals in our house when I was growing up. But in the urban environment, we do not get to learn about different varieties of animals.

I felt this could be big loss for my daughter, and I saw the need to create something for her to learn more about animals, the earth, and the beautiful world that we live in it. And this is how everything started.

The first animal that I illustrated was Zebra. I admit, that for some reason I found drawing horses much more difficult than I anticipated. That's why I decided to start with Zebra. This was my very first draft of Zebra:

Frontal cortex is one of the biggest part of our brain that plays an important role in our thinking
The very first sketch that I draw from Zebra

After my daughter was born, I had to stop the project for a little bit to take care of her and my wife. I was only able to continue the work when she grow a bit older, and only when she slept. After completing the creation of almost 20 animals and writing stories for them, it was time to write the stories. They needed to be have educational and entertainment value. For example, let's read one of them:

My daughter, Maha Mamouri
Photo of my daughter, Maha Mamouri

When righting the stories, we had to make a decision about the level of complexity of the language that we want to use. We have decided to use words that might be considered a bit more difficult than it can be understood by our audience. (2 to 5 years old). For example, in the story of owl, we intentionally used the word "nocturnal". We think that listening the words that might be challenging is beneficial for children. Their brain get used to them. Children in general have an amazing ability to pick up the meaning from context.

This is the full story:

[Hoot, Hoot] I’m an owl. I’m “nocturnal,” so I’m awake at night while everyone’s asleep. My ears can be ten times better than humans’, so I can hear other animals from far away. Using my sharp hearing and eyes, I will hunt just about anything that suits my size. My neck can also twist nearly all the way around!
And this is the character:
The owl character in the night setting and a colourful background
The owl character in the night setting and a colourful background
Mahdi Mamouri - Principle Machine Learning Engineer of Mahdi & Co

Mahdi Mamouri

In love with building businesses around digital story telling, data mining, and data analytics.