Grade 2

Tell Me Why - Design Thinking

Innovative Designer
design thinking fun colorful poster


In this activity students will be challenged to engage in design thinking as they use logic and their imagination to solve unique problems. Students will be tasked with creating an object specifically designed for a given character. Students will be provided with design considerations to assist them in the design process. During the design process, students will break down a big problem into small chunks, continually checking to see if the solution being developed is working and changing the plan as needed based on what is learned.  Once created, the students will share their design, explaining how their specific design was tailored to meet the needs of the given character.

This activity will take several 20-minute class periods to complete. 

Students will:

  • Be able to ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change.
  • Be able to create an product to address (solve) a specific problem.
  • Be able to develop or improve an object or tool to address a specific need.
  • Be able to listen to and learn from the feedback of others in order to improve my design.
  • Be able to tell others about my design process including important, descriptive details.

Vocabulary Words:

  1. Design Thinking: Design thinking is using logic and imagination to solve a complex problem.

  2. Design Process: The design process is breaking down a big problem into small chunks, continually checking to see if the solution being developed is working, and changing the plan as needed based on what is learned.

To prepare for this lesson:

  • Teachers will need to add the “Design Thinking Fun” presentation to their Google Drive by making a copy. 

  • The teacher will print the Focus Subjects (either full sheet or ½ sheet versions) and the Design Missions. Once printed, the teacher will need to cut the pieces apart so that it is easy to distribute to the class.

  • Teachers should decide how they will assign Focus Subjects and Design Missions (student choice, random assignment, or strategically assigned).

  • Demonstrate to the students how to use Google Draw. 

  • See the Accommodations Page and Charts on the 21things4students website in the Teacher Resources. 
  • Students may work in small groups in order to share ideas and build off the strengths of others.

Directions for this activity:

  1. Teacher assigns each student a specific Focus Subject and a Design Mission.

  2. Students brainstorm possible solutions based on their assigned Focus Subject and Design Mission.

  3. Students share their ideas with a partner or small group, listening to the feedback of others and offering feedback on their partners’ designs.

  4. Students will design a solution (sketch and/or written description).

  5. Once designs are completed, students will share their design and explain the way in which they moved through the design process.  

Extension Activities:

  1. Students use Google Draw to create their solution and then share that drawing within a shared Google Slides presentation.
  2. Students may be asked to write a short informational text explaining the design process and the way in which their design addresses specific needs.
  3. Students may be asked to create a solution for a character in the novel they are reading.
  4. Students may be asked to design a product based on a need showcased in current events (ex: emergency light for hurricane victims)

Different options for assessing the students:

  • Observations
  • Check for understanding
  • As students share their creation/design, the teacher will listen for students to demonstrate mastery of the key learning objectives. Consider using the following checklist:
  • Student created a design (and/or) product to address a specific problem.
  • Student was able to explain the design process including important, descriptive details.
  • Student shared ways that he/she improved his/her design based on the feedback of others.

MITECS: Michigan adopted the "ISTE Standards for Students" called MITECS (Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students) in 2018.

Innovative Designer
4a. Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.

Students do not need access to any device for this project. The teacher will need a way in which to display and/or print the slides from the presentation.

Google Doc Presentation

Google Draw

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.4 Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

Students could use materials to create the product which they designed.

K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool. K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.

Students may be asked to create a device specific to the need of a given community member (e.g. the mayor needs a vehicle that will allow him to easily travel between city hall and the police station)

This task card was created by Jean Smith, Van Buren Public Schools, February 2018. Updated November 2023.