Monday, December 7, 2009

Gifts for Young Designers

Gifts for young designers don't have to be expensive or elaborate. Sometimes the simplest materials can be the gift that young designers will use more than their expensive toys.

Even commercially available gifts can be inexpensive - like the Melissa & Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit Blocks shown on the left that are only $39 from The buildings on the right were constructed out of cardboard boxes. Young designers need lots of raw materials to help them come up with original ideas, visualize new designs, and make models of them.

It's a good idea to provide materials for young designers that enable them to use their imaginations to create designs and make simple prototypes. There are four kinds of activities to encourage for future designers so maybe you could put together a kit with materials for each activity:
Graphic Design
Product Design
Environment Design

and Experience Design.

Graphic designers need lots of paper and things to draw with. A ream of paper and some pencils and markers will be a gift a young designer will use long after the other toys are put away.

Product designers need materials to make objects. Non-drying clay that can be used over and over is what model-makers use to create prototypes of all kinds of objects from animation characters to automobiles.

Architects and urban planners need to make models and dioramas. A large appliance box and some sheets of cardboard will provide hours of learning experiences for young designers to create their own buildings. Don't worry much about painting or adding color because the structure is most important in the design process.

Experience designers create objects and places with which people interact. If you have a computer the young designer can use, Scratch is a free computer program you can download that they can use to create their own computer games. SketchUp is another free program they can download to create their own built environments.

Rather than shopping for pre-designed activities for young people, give them a supply of materials and tools they can use to create their own images, objects, places, and experiences.

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