design-thinking-during-halloween

How to apply the principals of Design Thinking during Halloween?

Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding from this post– I LOVE THE SUMMER, but we are now technically in Fall, which is a fantastic time of the year. While Apple picking is probably high on the agenda, most of the conversations with family friends seem to center on that all important question – What are you going to be for Halloween? 

Last year our goal was to ‘make’ the costumes as opposed to ‘buying’ them, and I wrote an article about the need for time – time to incubate ideas, time to plan, time to gather the material, and finally time to prototype (when you’re trying out ideas to see if they work, you’re prototyping).

SEE ALSO: Introducing some of the principals Design Thinking to young children

I advocate for the making of costumes, because it provides an opportunity to involve the family in a design process that engages our creative thinking and problem solving skills.

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Design Thinking is the name of a specific problem-solving methodology that has been made popular by design firms such as IDEO, but many of it’s principals can be found in most problem solving methods that require practitioners to navigate toward a creative outcome. Below is how parents can apply some of the principals of Design Thinking during Halloween.

STAGE ONE: Clarifying the Problem: What are we going to be?

The first stage of the process begins with clarifying the problem. Ultimately, this is where you have to work with your little ones to identify what costumes you need to make? During this stage you will no doubt welcome the whacky ideas that naturally manifest, and eventually settle for something in the middle (unless of course, your field of expertise is costume design). A few years ago Lucas was intent on being a fire breathing, robot skeleton dinosaur, but over time he opted for a Peter Pan theme, which was more inclusive for the family.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2013
Halloween Costume 2013: My wife deserves all the credit. She researched the idea of a plane and made it. We noticed Lucas had difficulty climbing stairs and turning around in tight corners, but it certainly got all the attention from fellow parents! A little more prototyping perhaps!

STAGE TWO: Ideating: How to I make the costume?

This is the stage where you need to go out an explore ideas on how to make your costume. Pinterest is a place where all the creative parents hang out, so I highly encourage you to explore this as part of your research, but a quick Google image search is also great place to start.  I encourage you to identify a few different options, as you’ll likely benefit from taking a little bit from here, and a little bit from there, in order to make the perfect costume.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2014
Halloween Costume 2014: Characters from Never Never Land, Last year we had to creatively steer Lucas away from a fire breathing skelton dinosaur, and to a more family friendly, and doable in short-time frame option. I was a Lost Boy – can’t you tell? I rolled on the grass to get the grass stains!

STAGE THREE: Prototyping: Does it work? In other words can they actually wear it?

This is where you get the little ones to try on your invention (or perhaps even better the collaborative invention). Ask them how it feels? Does it need any adjustments? You can also have them make observations, and offer suggestions for improvements. Each improvement is called an iteration, and there might even be a need to scrap the idea and start all over again – but of course time is probably playing against you during this stage of the process.

Design Thinking During Halloween 2015
Halloween Costume 2015: This year Lucas wanted to be a Wild Kratt, with frog powers. I was determined to practice what I preach and design this costume for him, but toward the end he opted for an Indian theme, thanks to a short lived obsession with Pocahontas. Mommy of course assumed the lead role, while Daddy made an attempt to replicate the character of John Smith, from the Disney movie.

Time is always a factor, so perhaps you alternate years of making and buying costumes. Whatever you do, just be sure to start thinking early, involve your little ones in the process, and most of all don’t forget to take those pictures!


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Prototyping a Sailboat: Introducing DESIGN-BASED thinking to young children

“Few people think about it or are aware of it. But there is nothing made by human beings that does not involve a design decision somewhere.” —Bill Moggridge


 

This weekend’s sailboat activity was a disaster! Daddy’s boat sunk as spectacularly as Henry VIII’s Mary Rose, and now lies at the bottom of the deep blue swimming pool.

The Saturday hadn’t started off too badly. Following up on my article on introducing design based thinking to young children, we decided to make a sailboat. Now Lucas from the very start become fixated on making sure Brother Dadu (one of four toy giraffes) could fit safely into the boat, and this seemed to factor into nearly every design decision we made.

Daddy: Which one will be the best for a sailboat?

Lucas: This one (pointing to the large milk carton)

Daddy: Why this one?

Lucas: Because I like it

As this activity was designed to introduce some of the concepts of prototyping, I encouraged Lucas to offer a little more of an explanation for his decision.

Daddy: Ok, but which one will be the best in the water? Remember our sailboat will be going into the water.

Lucas: I think this one because it’s the biggest.

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This is an example of how a toy giraffe sabotaged my perfectly thought out sailboat/prototyping activity. It was all about making sure that Brother Dadu, could fit in his boat, but sometimes it’s important that we go where our little ones take us, so I let him choose milk carton, and I selected a plastic bottle and said this was going to be Daddy’s boat. Interestingly, his observation this time was a little more on point.

See Also: 4 ACTIVITIES TO INTRODUCE YOUNG CHILDREN TO PROTOTYPING’

Lucas: Yeah, but I think this one is not good because it might fall over.

After we cut out what will become the hull for each of the two boats, we turned out attention to material for the sail. We had a little more success at this part of the activity, as Lucas was assured Brother Dadu could fit into his milk carton, he was able to think a little more about making the sailboat actually work.

Daddy: What’s the best material for a sail?

Lucas: This one will blow the best because it’s made of paper and paper can blow away in the wind.

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We made two different sails, Lucas called one the Lollypop Sail, and the other the Normal Sail. Daddy had to use the Lolly Pop Sail!

We used furniture pads to hold the masts in place, and at this point Lucas soon began to concern himself again with space for Brother Dadu. so we had to relocate the mast, which meant detaching the furniture pads, but Lucas was now starting to think like a designer, and in some ways was even thinking of the end user – his toy giraffe!

We tested our boats in a little paddling pool, but had to wait until the following morning to put them into the ocean (the swimming pool). , and during the night one of the sails had became a little loose.

Lucas: Daddy, the Lollypop sail is a little bit shaky.

But this wasn’t a major concern because it was in Daddy’s boat.

At the pool Lucas wasn’t interested in actually testing the sails, and only cared about placing Brother Dadu in his boat, which he did successfully, but eventually he fell into the water. At this point the rest of the activity was centered on making a really tight seat belt, but he didn’t fall in after this, and his sailboat was a success. Mine on the other hand, sunk within a few seconds of setting off from port.


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7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

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4 Activities to introduce young children to prototyping

Have you ever noticed your child create an object with a piece of paper or cardboard? How about the look on their face when they finally get the object to look or cooperate in the way they envisioned? This is your child starting to prototype ideas, and it’s certainly a process that we as parents must celebrate and encourage to promote creativity at home.

A prototype is an early sample of a product that is used to test a new concept or idea. Its process is one of the fundamental principals of design-based thinking, and engages a variety of creative thinking skills along the way. As adults we might lack the creative confidence to bring our ideas to fruition, but as parents we are lucky enough to have our little bundles of joy to help lead the way.

To get started on a design-based activity, I suggest observing any elements of prototyping that already exist in your child’s play. For example, my four year old enjoys prototyping objects that he’s seen on television, like the Tricorder type device in Disney’s Miles of Tomorrow Land, or Princess Sophia’s emulate.

Designs usually become more elaborate after he’s figured out the process, and he will usually expand beyond his original idea.
Designs usually become more elaborate after he’s figured out the process, and he will usually expand beyond his original idea.

I noticed that paper, crayons, scissors and glue, usually featured highly in his process, and decided that it would be best to incorporate these elements into our activity. Now any parent looking to introduce the concepts of prototyping to a young child should do so subtly, and avoid forcing any unwanted structure to their play. Instead we should encourage the child to observe each design, and then facilitate questions on how to make improvements. Once the activity is finished we can investigate which design was the best – but keep the focus on the iterations that were made throughout the process (how did we improve this design the second time around). From my first experience I would suggest no more than two to three prototypes, and it’s essential that problems are kept ill-defined – in other words, avoid following instructions and any ‘this is the correct way’ approach to the activity (this quickly defeats the objective of introducing young children to prototyping). If you want to expand the activity in a classroom environment (or with older kids) you might want to snap a few pictures along the way and challenge the child to reflect on the process and create a set of instructions afterwards.

Below is a list of products that I think make for fun design-based activities that can introduce prototyping to young children. Try and avoid the ones that you already know, so that you can increase the opportunity to fail*.

4 Activities to introduce young children to prototyping

  1. Thaumatrope (see video below) – an old fashioned device that demonstrates the theory of Persistence of Vision. Simple to make, and you only need card, crayons, scissors and elastic bands.
  2. Kite (can you design a flying kite beyond the triangular one?) – If you’re a fan of Mary Poppins, be sure you listen to ‘Lets Go Fly a Kite’ as you make.
  3. Sailboat (take a drinks carton and go from there) – Introduce concept of wind power at the same time. This would certainly require water to test each prototype, but has certainly peeked my curiosity.
  4. Paper Plane (which design flies the furtherest?) – Lots of different prototyping opportunities. Might allow for more detailed/advanced tweaking.

* NO PICTURES – JUST GET MAKING. It kind of limits the opportunity to prototype if you look up how to make them. Enjoy the process of discovering from failing!

If you liked this article you might want to read ‘The Role of Trail and Error in Creativity’

This weekend I started off with the Thumatroupe, which I plan to share in another article, but the video below shows our four prototypes.

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Nurturing Creativity in our Kids

DADS_FOR_CREATIVITY: Sunglasses case
DADS_FOR_CREATIVITY: The sunglasses case my daughter designed so that I never lose my glasses again.

Nurturing creativity in our kids can take place at every turn in the road as they grow older. Big projects can be fun – but it’s in the everyday solution to simple things that also allows a kid’s imagination to soar. By involving our kids in problem solving – we can equip them with unique
and creative skill-sets that may allow them to discover unique solutions to the most mundane or complex problems. And with these creative skills as a foundation – who knows what they will think up next?

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I’m always losing my sunglasses case. Dark black case. Blends in everywhere. Our three rescue dogs waited impatiently in the Landcrusier for the trip to the dog park to begin as my wife, my nine-year old daughter Natalie and I all searched for my sunglasses case. I complained non-stop until I finally found the dark case camouflaged on top of a dark leather book. Little did I know that this would be the last time I’d ever have to hunt for them. As I took my sunglasses out of their dark case, I caught a glimpse of my daughter watching me. “What would you do so I wouldn’t lose them? I asked her. Natalie took the case and went into her room. A few minutes later she emerged and handed me a customized glass case that would stand out almost anywhere:

 


 

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