For our final guest post, we have the talented Ana of Babble Dabble Do.  The beautiful projects and colors on Ana's site always bring a smile to my face.  Two of my favorite posts of hers are her Marbled Milk Paper and her Cosmic Suncatchers.  Be sure to check them out!

Thank you so much for letting me join in the fun (at home with kids) today, Asia! I am a long time fan of the amazing resource Asia has built here with her amazing blog and so happy to be a part of it for a day! I blog over at Babble Dabble Do and as an architect and furniture designer by trade, I am very passionate about introducing design to kids.

design projects for kids

Before we get started I wanted to take a moment to ask what is design? I mean really, what is the difference between design and say, art? And why is that important for kids to understand? There are many definitions of what design is, but to me design is problem-solving. And better yet it's CREATIVE problem solving. Designers are faced with a challenge and try to solve that challenge in a way that addresses the concerns of everyone involved: users, clients, the public to name a few. Take a building for instance. An architect looks at all the needs and desires a client has and incorporates those along with structural information, materials choices, budgets, and the best part, aesthetics. Designers take functional needs, add in innovation, and then pepper on aesthetic value so that a product is not only useful but desirable. I could go on and on but the main reason I think kids should know about design is because it is an opportunity to incorporate problem solving skills with creative expression. Encouraging kids to think differently and to look at problems from multiple perspectives is a skill that will last them their entire life and goes way beyond just making things. Ready to start trying design projects with your kids? There are many, many design fields out there and for this round-up I’m going to introduce you to a few of them.

1. Architecture

First up is my favorite, of course, architecture. Architects design buildings. They design the exterior, interior, have a hand in the structural design for the building, and deal with clients directly. My father is an architect as well and I was drawing floor plans at age 8, laying out dream houses for myself! It was a hobby of mine, no joke!  We had fun with architecture in this project: Paper Houses. Included are 3 templates for printable paper houses your kids can make and decorate for a mini village!

Design for Kids: Paper Houses

2. Lighting

If I had to pick a runner up in design fields I love, it would be lighting design. I love playing with light. Many people don’t think much about the lighting around them but lighting can make a huge difference in whether you want to be in a space or not. And think about all the fun created with light at theme parks, stage performances, and civic spaces. We had fun with this easy lighting project that uses EL wire: DIY Lights. It looks much more complicated than it is, trust me!


3. Structures

While I’m on the subject of space, structural design is often overlooked as a design field because it is highly technical. That said, amazing structural design and innovation has made for some of the most memorable structures/buildings you know, think the Eiffel Tower, pyramids, and the Brooklyn Bridge. We had fun with structures using this simple activity: Wood & Clay Block Structures

clay projects for kids

4. Toys

Toy Design is forever popular. All those toys in the aisles at Target were designed by someone. Encourage your child to design their own toy with these easy to make Pieces Dolls. No sewing involved.

5. Product

If you think about it, every single product you come into contact with on a daily basis was designed. The next time your child is frustrated with a product, engage them in asking how they could improve it. Can they modify it to make it better? A very simple way to start asking these questions is to make a quill pen. It’s a great introduction to ergonomics.


6. Landscape

And what about the outdoors? Landscape design is burgeoning field as people discover how well planned landscapes can dramatically change people’s experiences of a building and space. The most famous landscape design in my opinion is Central Park in New York. It is a brilliant design for a lush getaway from city life in the very heart of the city itself. There are places for big groups to gather as well as small intimate spaces where you can literally feel alone for second in New York City. We tackled a sweet little landscape design project with this Insect Hotel. Make one to house all those insects that are vital to a healthy garden.


7. Jewelry

Jewelry design is a favorite of mine on Babble Dabble Do because what kid (and parent) doesn’t love glamming it up? Jewelry projects are small scale and very easy for kids to make. My favorite jewelry design project on Babble Dabble Do are these Polymer Clay Bracelets.

Polymer Clay Bracelets


Another career I briefly considered was textile design. All those beautiful fabrics used in fashion and decor are the product of textile designers' imaginations! Textile design ranges from weaving to printing, embroidery and more. Get your kids thinking about the possibilities of working with fabric with this easy project: Burlap Embroidery.

sewing ideas for kids
9. Graphics

Last up is graphic design. Graphic design usually involves the placement of text and images in print or online. I’m expanding that view to include bookmaking. We recently made these 3d Pop-Up Books which are a great way for kids to rethink what a book is and can be.
 simple pop up book tutorial

What do you think? Are you ready to encourage the designer in your child? Hop on over to Babble Dabble Do where we regularly post design projects for kids! Your child’s inner Charles and Ray Eames thanks you!

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  1. Great post, Ana! I've actually never thought of design as "creative problem solving" but that definition makes so much sense! Thanks for sharing your amazing projects. :)

  2. Terrific ideas and beautiful images!


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