The last time, I left off with finished cardboard prototypes that were ready for user testing with Ellie. I stopped by to present what I had and to have her try out the set I made. At first she was excited about putting the blocks together and assembling the sandwich but lost interest in the shapes. Instead she incorporated the cardboard sandwich pieces with other aspects of her play. For Ellie, it's more about the story behind preparing fake food and the make-believe. She likes to pretend that there's a process, that ingredients are getting hotter/colder and that the food is meant for someone. Future work could be to support this storytelling aspect with tangible fake food items that would provide a record how they are being used or prompt the child to reflect on their preparation process.
Ellie was also enthralled with the cardboard bread pieces (because they really looked like bread) and liked the cheese piece as well, suggesting the fidelity of the prototype in communicating its use for someone at this age. She also had difficulty with the star piece and specifically said she didn't like it because it was hard. In the final version, only simple shapes with few prongs were used (square, circle and pentagon).
During the fabrication process, I found there wasn't enough colored acrylic to create all the pieces with enough detail. Instead I improvised by creating textures from real images found on the web and printing them on regular paper, which I would sandwich in between the acrylic pieces. The acrylic glue caused the ink to bleed so I taped both sides of the paper with invisible tape or packing tape before gluing it to the acrylic. This was a cheap form of lamination that seemed to work. For the ketchup and mustard pieces, cutting around the odd blob shape proved to be difficult, so I just cut out vinyl stickers in a solid color and stuck them to the acrylic pieces.
In the future, I would work on supporting the storytelling experience and perhaps using different material. I thought about using magnets to hold the pieces together as it could encourage multiple combinations. It would also impose constraints on which sides could be pieced together.
More pictures forthcoming/reveal [currently in Seattle for CSCW/phone has water damage]