K5T – Design Thinking

* Blog *

Strategy + innovation = design thinking!

What is design?

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” 

-Steve Jobs

    When design principles are applied with both strategy and innovation, the success rate greatly improves. Design thinking involves creativity, cognition, planning, learning from mistakes, visual, tactile, aural, and olfactory experiences.

What does it look like?

    Is your student trying to solve a problem? That is a great place to start. Is your student trying to help the environment? That would involve empathy. Consider emotions of child and the reason for the desire for this process:

  • Child-centered
  • Focuses on the process over products
  • Shows instead of tells
  • Involves action, and re-action
  • Can be collaborative
  • Includes empathy of the world around
  • Allows for insights and re-design

The Process

  1. Research: help your students through the research process to find needed information before beginning. Is it a new idea of an improvement on an existing idea?
  2. Brainstorm: consider the information found and what direction your child wants to take with the project; younger children need added support. Scaffold the support as needed to help your child learn the process. Back away as the child is able to accept responsibility.
  3. Conceptualize and Sketch: child sketches design; not looking for artistic excellence; just looking to get idea on paper to begin to think.
  4. Prototype: gather materials and make a rough design that can be created from materials readily available: string, tubes, hammer, nails, soft wood pieces, cardboard, glue, boxes, ruler, pencils, foam, fabric, craft sticks, and whatever else is needed; trouble-shoot and improve. This process should be relatively quick and cheap.
  5. Build: (helps with tenacity and resilience) as many attempts will be needed to improve and correct to make design.
  6. Transform: need not be perfect; make presentable and share with others

Pause to Ponder


Assess and reflect – verbal or through journaling:

  • What did you learn through this process?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • Which was more important in your learning, product or process?
  • How is your product meaningful to you or someone else?
  • Can you critique your own process without being judgmental?
  • How did your curiosity help you through this process?
  • Did you see any patterns?
  • Do you think this process would be easier alone or with someone else? Why?
  • What did you like best about this experience?
  • What do you wish after finishing this experience?
  • What if…
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