How to run a Design Club mini-project from home

Help children design and prototype an app using pen and paper. This simple project works through the basics of design thinking.

Jemima Gibbons
Mar 19 · 6 min read
Children working on Design Club mini projects (photos: Daniel Gost)

Sounds interesting. What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a process that originated in the design industry but is now used for problem-solving across many different sectors. We believe design thinking is a powerful life skill that every child can benefit from learning.

A4 mini project (top); plus people and challenge worksheets

Okay. What do I need?

Make some printouts

Set up your space

  • Set aside 2–3 hours
  • Tell your child(ren) they’ll be doing something fun and creative
  • Put on some relaxing music
  • Clear a table, desk or floor space
  • Lay out coloured pens, pencils, scissors and paper

What are the five steps?

1. Define a challenge

Encourage children to pick someone they want to design for. They can decide on a person from the people worksheet, choose a friend, neighbour or someone they know, or even a celebrity or well-known figure.

Designing an app to help someone recycle more (photos: Daniel Gost)

2. Empathise with your user

Talk to children about empathy and what it means. For this step, they need to try and put themselves in their user’s shoes. Ask them to imagine what their user likes and doesn’t like. Then ask them to write down what they think their user needs in relation to the challenge.

3. Ideate possibilities

This stage is all about coming up with ideas. Talk to children about any apps they like to use — or show them one of your favourite apps — and discuss what the key features are.

Once you’ve chosen which ideas to use, start prototyping by sketching screens (photos: Daniel Gost, Jeanette Sha)

4. Prototype your app

Ask children if they know what a prototype is (see below). Get them to imagine what their user’s ideal app might look like. Then ask them to draw the first few screens. Suggest they put a logo, tagline and start button on the first screen. And think about what their user might like to see next.

Creating digital prototypes using Marvel App (photos: Daniel Gost)

5. Test your app

Have a chat with children about why they think testing might be important. Explain that all good designers welcome feedback as it helps them to improve their designs and make them even better!

Any final advice?

Show a genuine interest in the work being produced and offer lots of positive feedback. Try to ask questions rather than tell children what to do. Give them plenty of time and space to create and develop their own ideas.

Design Club

Design thinking workshops for children, from after school…

Jemima Gibbons

Written by

Engagement, social media and content design / co-founder @DesignClub / #techmums #oneteamgov / #MonkeysWithTypewriters book + blog / #ABeachWithWiFi blog

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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