Design Thinking with Kids Toolkit

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Bring exploration and hands-on innovation into your classroom.

The 'Design Thinking with Kids' toolkit has been designed to help teachers (and parents) introduce primary and secondary students to the Design Thinking approach. Whether it's designing a new musical instrument, building the perfect home for a pet, designing ways to save energy around the house or even a better way to get to Saturn, Design Thinking provides a fun way of exploring problems while building important social and cognitive skills.

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The toolkit includes a 28 page booklet (12cm x 17cm) and a two copies of the large-format double-sided process map (63cm x 30cm).

One side of the map navigates younger students through the process, the other more detailed side is suitable for older students.

This resource introduces Design Thinking in simple terms, and walks you through a selection of engaging classroom exercises to build student's skills in problem-finding and problem-solving. From identifying interesting problems to examine to collecting interesting resources for prototyping, the toolkit gives you useful, practical techniques and tips on the best way to bring Design Thinking into your classroom.

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Create Problem-based Projects

Whether you are looking to build a unit of work, or plan something to do at home over the weekend, Design Thinking gives you an approach to creating deeply engaging activities.

Driven by children’s curiosity and interests, plan activities where they can explore, create and learn.

Versatile Thinking Tools

With Design Thinking methodology, you can equip children with a toolkit of powerful ways of working – from ideation to prototyping, from ethnography to testing.

These are skills that they can apply in a wide range of contexts, both at school and outside. As they apply them more broadly, the skills will continue to develop with use.

Hand's On Experiences

With screens and digital technology playing such a big role in learning and recreation for children, Design Thinking is about the physical, the experiential and the low tech. Even when thinking about technological problems, it focuses on conversation, physical prototyping, and hands-on experience.

The more opportunities children have to learn and play in these ways, the more balance we can create with mediated technology.

What is Design Thinking?

'Design Thinking' is an approach to problems that brings together ideas from multiple disciplines. In recent years it has been adopted by many of the world's most innovative companies and institutions as a powerful toolkit for problem solving.

Design thinking is a great way to work with kids because it develops a range of important skills. It encourages creative thinking in a wide range of domains. It also encourages critical thinking and shows how critical and creative thinking can work together to generate great ideas.

The approach is also very hands-on. It has a focus on exploring a problem through doing - from asking people to experiencing things for yourself. It also focuses on doing as part of developing solutions - creating prototypes to test ideas, getting people to use initial prototypes, and learning through trial and error.

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This side of the process map guides younger students through simple steps to inventing amazing stuff. One straightforward exercise is suggested at each point, and illustrations on left and right hand borders provide inspiration for possible topics.

What is covered in this resource?

The resource is made up of a guidebook (one copy) for you to use as the facilitator and the process map (two copies) that help students navigate the process.

The guidebook provides a very brief introduction to Design Thinking and how it can benefit students. It then steps through the process - aligned with the student's maps - outlining how each of the parts might be run in a classroom. Additional advice on effective Design Thinking sessions, collaborative sessions, and further reading are included.

The process map is a two-sides large format fold-out sheet. On one side is a simplified version more suitable for guiding primary students through the process. On the other is a more complex map providing more options - this is generally more suited to high school students.

The guidebook and map are clear, concise and professionally presented - carefully created to help you make running Design Thinking processes simple and easy.

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This side of the process map takes students on a more complex journey through the simplified Design Thinking process. Key concepts are introduced at each of the three stages, and a range of different activities are suggested for students to choose from.

Who should use the resource?

This resource has been designed for anyone working with primary or secondary students. While our primary focus is teachers, parents will also find it useful, as well as grandparents, child care workers, youth workers and others.

If you spend time with young people and want to help them develop creative and critical thinking skills in a fun and engaging way, then this is the is a great way to do so. The resource gives you practical tools to use in introducing kids to design thinking, as well as giving you a chance to experience the methodology yourself.

It also includes reference to several other great resources around to help you plan and deliver design thinking experiences for kids - in particular you should check out Stanford University's Institute of Design (dschool.stanford.edu) and IDEO's Design Thinking for Educators (www.designthinkingforeducators.com).

A note on copyright

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0). That means you are welcome to make copies of it, share it, and do things with it, as long as you don't make money out of doing so.

You can download PDF copies of each part of the toolkit by clicking on the thumbnails below.

For more information about 'Design Thinking with Kids' or our other courses you can email us at courses@schoolhouse.edu.au. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Feature image on this page by Fabrice Florin. Accompanying images courtesy of Jennifer Morrow and Hannah Perner-Wilson.