Toy Design in Grade 3

Toy Design in Grade 3


What makes a toy, "fun"? 

Where does the inspiration come from and how is it brought to life? Our 3rd graders answered these questions in their weekly Design Class with Mrs. Bobbi Jarvis, a design educator and inventor.  Bobbi, owner of Bobbi Jarvis Design, challenged the students to design and build a push or pull toy for a toddler.  The toys, which were inspired by a children's book, needed to have at least one unique feature and were created with our preschoolers in mind.  Students implemented The Design Process as their guide for this challenge.

The Design Process

Design thinking is not about graphic design but rather about solving problems through the use of design.  It is an approach to learning, collaboration, and problem solving; one that is structured around identifying challenges, gathering information, generating potential solutions, refining ideas, and testing solutions.

In this project, "students create original design concepts by brainstorming, sketching their ideas, reviewing their concepts with their peers and design experts," said Bobbi. "They built working prototypes, created unique illustrations and then presented their ideas to a panel of design experts."

The Brainstorm phase is hugely important. Even though the projects are created on an individual basis, the students are encouraged to collaborate on their ideas and offer feedback during the testing phase.


"Using the Design Process is such an important skill for young students to learn.  It teaches them that there can be multiple solutions to a single problem and that those potential solutions need to be explored to be able to determine which one is the best." said Mrs. Jarvis. "Third grade is such a perfect age to engage kids in this type of project.  These students are still young enough to think that anything is possible, but they have the dexterity and thinking skills to make their ideas come to life. 

"I have had the pleasure of working with this particular group of kids since the second grade when we did the "Reminder to be Kinder" initiative together.  Because they were exposed to designerly ways of thinking last year, they came to this year's design challenge with tremendous brainstorming ability already.  Their enthusiasm for coming up with cool new ideas is evident in their final toy concepts.  Their designs are wonderful - just like these students!"

From Concept to Design

Final Presentation

With the help of technology teacher Bridget O'Boyle, the students created television commercials to advertise their toy design.  The commercials feature their preschool buddies playing with the toy - watch the videos below!

Lastly, the third graders presented their final designs and commercials to a panel of expert judges. Mrs. Jarvis was joined by SMCDS Art Teacher Leslie Keohane, Mrs. O'Boyle and Tim Moulton, a mechanical engineer and father of Finley in kindergarten. The judges were very impressed by the imaginative and creative designs of our students and the poise and confidence they showed when presenting their toys.  It looks like we have some future designers in our midst!

Collaboration in Grade 1

Collaboration in Grade 1

Bridge Build in Grade 8

Bridge Build in Grade 8