Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher is a tool which allows children in the early years to make video recordings and take photographs in order to share their thoughts, feelings and  learning with their family at home. Dream Catcher aims to highlight the importance of child voice and showcase the many creative and playful ways in which children engage in self-directed informal learning.


Dream Catcher is a small electronic device disguised as a watch. When a child moves the hands round to a number, Dream Catcher will tell them the time and then ask the child to show them what they are doing or thinking now. At the press of a button, the child records (using video, audio, or photography) their Dream Blog, i.e. their play, ideas, songs, dreams and stories. They can ask questions, make an observation, invent new games, or simply wonder out loud. The child can choose to show their family and friends what they have recorded, triggering opportunities for reflection and discussion. Or, the child could ‘Beam their Dream’ wirelessly to another watch-wearer, be it a grand/parent, child-minder, or friend, who can share in their children’s play virtually.

Parents will be able to download, catalogue and preserve those magic moments in their children’s lives. They will observe how, and what, their children are learning from other areas of life, such as at nursery or pre-school. Children will feel a sense of confidence and well-being at having their own stories experienced in a meaningful way.

How it might be used

Imagine Delilah - a 3 year-old with English as her second language. When other children seem to be playing happily, she struggles to understand what is happening at nursery, hasn’t made many friends and is shy at home. Her parents work long hours and are often tired when she wants to talk. She has a lot going on in her mind and she loves to play in her imaginary worlds, but she lacks an outlet for expression and meaning-making at a crucial stage in her early brain development - she is not engaging well with the world around her, or making sense of her place within it. It’s a common story, and could be the beginnings of larger, more anti-social problems later on.

Dream Catcher gives Delilah a chance to express her dreams, ideas and stories about everyday things in her life which will give her parents and others around her an insight into what is going on and how to help her better. She will feel in control of the story, more confident in self-expression, and happier for a closer relationship with her parents. She will also have a sole-mate in Mrs Dream Catcher who will nurture Delilah with questions about her ideas and listen patiently.

Dream Catcher was a prototype idea developed in partnership between Isaacs UK and Futurelab. If you would like to learn more about the Dream Catcher, a research report on the project can be accessed here from the Futurelab website.