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Using design thinking in arts and crafts teaching

Updated: May 29, 2022

As part of the arts and crafts programme at a school, the staff of a nearby care home had invited a class to help decorate the living room of the retirement home, which the care home staff found boring and clinical. The craft teachers and students looked for inspiration and planned how they could gather information about the needs of the residents and their tastes in colours and themes.

As the average age of the residents was over 90, the students had to carefully plan how to start a conversation with them about a pleasant living room environment. After careful consideration, the students decided to interview them, asking the residents about their favourite seasons, colours and landscapes, as well as their childhood memories. They also took photos to collect images of their favourite things in the home. The project continued with art workshops with the students, residents and family.

Along the way, the pupils became more and more precise about what they wanted to create as a decorative piece in relation to the stories and lives of the residents.

The arts and crafts teacher felt that the pupils' original design ideas lacked richness and personality. Therefore, she brought the pupils together to share their ideas with all the other pupils during the sketching phase and during the testing and prototyping part. As a result, they came up with new ideas by sharing their work with others, allowing the class to evaluate, elaborate, inspire and imagine together.

They also used creative constraints to limit the types of materials and shapes they could use. The final project was a unique, joyful and collaborative art and textile ensemble for the nursing home's lounge.



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