Fun Toolkit: The Smileyometer and Again-Again table

To measure enjoyment and fun, the Fun Toolkit for children from Read and Macfarlane (2002)  can be used. Two tools from the Fun Toolkit are treated here: The Smileyometer that measures reported fun and the Again – Again table that measures engagement.


The Smileyometer is based on a 5-point Likert scale and uses five smileys, especially designed for children. See 1 for an example. It can be used to elicit children’s opinion on a game or another activity. Children use the Smileometer to answer the question “How much fun was it to do that activity?”

Figure 1: The Smileyometer
The Smileyometer

The answers on the Smileyometer are re-coded to 1 (for awful) until 5 (for brilliant). According to Read and Macfarlane (2006), the Smileyometer is not very useful for young children. For children younger than 10 years old the Smileyometer is not very useful because variability of the responses is very low. Young children tend to choose the highest (most positive) score. In the evaluations of the PuppyIR project we even found this tendency in children aged 10-11 although at this age many children do select none-extreme scores as well. We conclude that the Smileyometer is useful from the age of 10. However, at the age of 11 or 12 there seems to be a turning point: children of 11 and 12 years old were much more critical in scoring their reported fun than younger children.

Again – Again table

To measure engagement, the Again – Again table (see Figure 2) from the Fun Toolkit can be used. This measure is based on the knowledge that people like to do fun things again. Children use the Again – Again table to answer the question if they would like to do the activities again.

Figure 2: The Again-Again table.
The Again-Again table

In an experimental study, Read and MacFarlane (2006)  found very strong correlations between results obtained by the Smileyometer and results obtained using the Again – Again table. They concluded that both tools measure the same construct, although the difference in emphasis of the evaluation (judging the software versus giving your own opinion on what you like to do again) might have influence in some cases.

 In two PuppyIR studies and in total six activities we also found strong correlations between the results of the Smileyometer and the results obtained with the Again – Again table, for all measurements. However, when we looked at age differences again we found that these correlations varied for different age groups. For the older children (above 10 years old) the correlations were weaker and in a few cases even not significant. Hence we do not support the conclusion that there is no real point in using both tools in a study. Especially for children above 10 years old, the Again – Again table is valuable to use next to the Smileyometer because when judging the software the older children seem to over-score to be polite, while when giving their opinion on what they would like to do again they express their doubts.