The Fun Challenge
The purpose of this design challenge is to foster students’ developing sense of empathy.
“How Might We Design Rediscover the Fun We Had In Kindergarten Now That We Are in Middle School?”
Activity One: Remembering the Days of Kindergarten
The purpose of this activity is encourage students to reflect on their experiences as a young student and how they felt about learning.
As a class visit the following websites that describe a typical day in kindergarten:
Invite your students to share their responses to this information.
Divide the class into pairs and ask them to share their memories of being a kindergarten student.
Provide each pair of students with a piece of drawing paper and ask them to create a sketch highlighting their memories.
Invite students to present their sketches to the entire class.
Activity Two: Compare & Contrast
As a class, revisit the University of Alberta website description of a kindergarten day at http://www.childstudycentre.ualberta.ca/nav03.cfm nav03=55961&nav02=55960&nav01=51676 . You may also choose to print out copies for each student.
A Typical Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten Day
A day in Kindergarten and Junior Kindergarten begins with free play. Once everyone has arrived the class gathers for their first meeting. It is a time to talk
about their current project and discuss the schedule of the day.
From the meeting, children move into centers of their choice. These centers include: blocks, house corner, light or water table, puzzles, etc. In kindergarten snack time is flexible. Children choose when to eat their own snacks depending on how they want to arrange their work time. Children in junior kindergarten eat their snack at the same time so that teachers can supervise hand washing and it creates a social atmosphere.
After working in the various centers, children clean up and have a second meeting where they sing songs, have stories and sharing. There are daily physical activities. Once a week students receive music instruction.
Project topics are chosen based on interests expressed by the students. The projects run anywhere from six to twelve weeks. Some projects have been: bones, light, transportation, electricity, grocery stores, newspapers, insects and growing things. Field trips and guest speakers are an essential part of the project approach which puts learning into context for students.
Over the course of the school year the inquisitive nature of the children is encouraged as the students themselves choose what they will learn within the framework of the classroom and each project. The students gain confidence through daily routines. They learn new vocabulary, articulate their thoughts and explore the topic to make sense of the world around them.
Ask the students to circle words or phrases in this description of a typical kindergarten day that describe events and/or feelings that are a part of their daily life as middle school students.
Then ask students to circle words or phrases in this description that are not a part of their daily life as middle school students. Discuss students’ observations and insights.
Activity One: What’s Your Story?
Divide the class into design teams. Select one student to act as the user that the group will design for.
Ask the group to interview the designated user about his or her ideas about what makes learning fun. Give each group a copy of the “When Learning Seemed to Be More Fun Interview Guide.”
When the interviews are complete, ask the students to share what they learned from their users with the entire class.
Activity One: Insights, Etc.
Tell the students that they are going to design an experience that will help their user
rediscover the fun of kindergarten in his or her daily life as a middle school students.
Using the information from their interviews, ask the students to generate Point of
View statements fro their users. Provide the students with the model sentences
_______ needs a way to __________ so she/he can ______________________ at
______ needs a way to __________ so she/he can rediscover ______________
from kindergarten times.
Activity Two: Ideas Galore...
Tell the students to generate ideas based on their Point of View statements. First,
encourage the students to brainstorm a minimum of twenty-five ideas. Then, ask
them to select the wildest idea, the safest idea, and the most feasible idea. Finally
ask the group to vote by tally to decide which idea they would like to create
Activity One: Prototyping Time
Ask the students to create prototypes based on the ideas they generated during the
ideation phase of the design process. Discuss how an experiential prototype is
different than other kinds of prototypes. Encourage the students to consider
creating skits, a day-in-the-life profiles, digital slideshows, monologues, murals, or
other artistic renderings as they create their prototypes.Encourage the students to
use a wide variety of materials when building.
Activity Two: Using Feedback
Have the students test their prototypes on their designated user. Have one student introduce the prototype using as few words as possible, another students act as an observer, and two students record the user’s interactions with the prototype.
Have the students modify their prototypes based on the feedback they receive, and then test them again on their designated users.
Activity One: Share Your Work
Provide time for each group to share its design with the entire class.
After the presentations are complete, host a class discussion critiquing each design. Invite students to share their observations and reflections on how well the designers were able to meet the needs of their user.
Credit: Maureen Carroll