Notes and learnings from a hosted pop-up workshop, where children designed a job to make them happy

Niki Taigel
Jul 3, 2018 · 5 min read

We recently ran a workshop as part of an Institute of Imagination Live Lab event for children aged 5–12 years. The theme was ‘Future Me’. The event provided lots of creative ways for children to explore their future selves and consider what role(s) they might be playing ten or twenty years from now.

Why we ran this pop-up

This was the second workshop we’ve run for the Institute of Imagination. Last year we took part in their Live Lab ‘Metropolis’ event where we prototyped a new project: Design a space for someone you know.

This year’s theme resonated with our core Design Club mission of providing children with the skills they need to design not only for big social issues but also for that deeply personal challenge — planning your own future!

What we did

We planned a drop-in activity. Children were encouraged to write a postcard from their ‘Future Me’. Then they popped on a stamp and posted the cards in our postbox. After the event, we sent the postcards to them in the actual post.

This fun activity led children through the design process.

  1. Define — The design challenge was set for the children: Design a job that makes you happy.
  2. Empathise — In the the empathy stage they used 4 questions to help them consider what they enjoyed doing, and what gave them energy.
  3. Ideate — They then researched and came up with ideas for future careers by interviewing adults. Adults commented on what they might like to do based on the answers to their questions from the empathy stage.
  4. Prototype— Children then considered what their future life might look like and what they might need to do to achieve that life. The postcard collected their favourite idea in one place and created a ‘prototype’ of their future self.

How was it?

We had around 60 children complete a postcard over the Live Lab day — this was a really positive response given there were many different activities for them to choose from.

The children were keen to write a postcard and excited to post it in our postbox. The addition of stickers to our existing kit of coloured pens and pencils also piqued their interest in producing an image for their postcard.

Some children (mostly 9 years or older) were keen on the interviewing activity. Some of the younger ones found it tricky to answer questions about what they were interested in, then follow through to thinking about their futures. We adapted and in those cases they skipped the interviewing or spoke with one or two mentors (who were a bit less scary)!

Overall the activity seemed to work well to inspire the kids to think about their future and consider that work could actually be fun, too.

Things we learned

Suitability of material

The workshop worked well as a drop-in activity with children being able to complete it in a short period of time. However we could shorten it for younger ones who were not able to deal with the complexity of questions or task of interviewing an unfamiliar adult. The activity worked best for age 8+.

Engagement with parents

We often encourage parents to take a back seat at Design Club events to allow their kids free reign. However with a much younger audience at Live Lab, parents were helpful in providing an extra level of support and encouragement.

Jemima was able to take photos and talk more to parents which provided us with a richer level of engagement and enabled us to gather some interest for the Design Club community through signing up to our parents’ newsletter (coming soon)!

Replicating the workshop

We were keen to develop materials to test out at the ‘Future Me’ event. For example, schools might be interested in using a careers day for children to ‘experience’ being a designer, and think about their own future.

The workshop as it stands requires a small budget for materials (e.g. stamps). But it’s possible that with a few tweaks there could be ways around this.

Thanks to all our mentors who took part on the day— we couldn’t have done it without you!

Design Club

Design thinking workshops for children, from after school clubs to pop-up workshops. We’re a social enterprise and not-for-profit. Join us.

Niki Taigel

Written by

Research, Service Design, and Facilitation with experience in education and social sectors.

Design Club

Design thinking workshops for children, from after school clubs to pop-up workshops. We’re a social enterprise and not-for-profit. Join us.

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