From The Ground Up


v. 10 Aug 2022

From The Ground Up - Playful Design Education Toolkit

NB The toolkit consists of a manual and several videos. The manual can be downloaded here. The playlist above this text starts with a video that gives an overview of the project, after which it will play all the videos of the toolkit in the intended order. Please contact me if you would like to download the videos.


In my MSc. project commissioned by the Kenyan nongovernmental organisation Sustainable Rural Initiatives (SRI), I developed a toolkit to help elementary school-age children in the rural community of Okana develop design skills in a playful way. The toolkit can be used to organise workshops in which children’s design processes are structured as a creative maker activity; the children go through a process of divergence and convergence, iteratively modelling locally available materials into an artefact of their design, which they finally present to each other. Over the course of several workshops the children work on increasingly free and open designs, further allowing them do develop their knowledge on the design process, as well as exercise their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Sustainable Rural Initiatives on the map


The toolkit consists of a manual that contains concise visual and written instructions for the workshop host and several supporting videos that aid in several stages of organising the workshops. In each workshop a design challenge is divided into three phases: Explore, Prototype, and Present. In the first phase the children are introduced to the topic and design challenge. In the second phase of the workshops, each child designs and builds a scale model in which their ideal solution is elaborated. Finally, in the third phase the children present their design to each other and discover and celebrate the great diversity of design solutions.

The manual contains instructions for the workshop host on how to host the workshops. The first two workshops are clearly pre-formatted through videos, such that a host can become acquainted with the proposed didactics and become self-reliant to design and carry out subsequent – more open-ended – workshops. Those videos include questions that provoke discussion between the children to help them elaborate their designs. Finally, the manual contains extensive suggestions for topics and challenges to help the workshop host organise subsequent more open-ended workshops after the first two video-supported workshops.


The manual is the primary reference to learn how to use this toolkit to host creative maker design workshops. It first explains the workshop format and then how the intended sequence of workshops facilitates progressively more open-ended challenges to help the children develop their design skills. Next, step-by-step instructions illustrate how to organise the first and second workshop. The final chapter of the manual explains how a workshop host may organise further workshops through several examples and a template that can be used to design more workshops. The videos in the toolkit can be used to make organising the workshops easier. There are two recruitment videos that can be used to introduce the workshops to children, two workshop videos that can be used to organise the first two entry-level workshops, and finally a conclusions video that can be used to bring the workshops to a close.


This toolkit was developed remotely from the Netherlands through an iterative design process in close collaboration with a local community worker from SRI for use at their community centre in Okana during the 2020/2021 Covid pandemic. By using the naturally available clay at SRI’s premises the toolkit intended to incur no costs for SRI, besides the internet costs needed to download the manual and videos. If used in different surroundings, the user of this toolkit, or the children engaging in the workshops themselves, would have to consider what materials are available to use in their own surroundings. Additionally, to allow for the workshops to take place in an afternoon the design process was simplified compared to more traditional, iterative design processes; rather than urging participants to produce many ideas, the workshop format and toolkit focuses on celebrating the diversity of outcomes of each workshop, creating a fun and engaging introduction to the design process.

More information

The project report can be found on the TU Delft repository

This project was presented at the PATT38 conference. The PDF of the abstract can be downloaded here

Suggested reference:

Westerhof, M. B., Gielen, M. A., van Boeijen, A. G. C., Jowi, J. O., & Jowi, J. O. (2021, April). Remote co-development of a design education toolkit for children rural Kenya. In The 38th Pupil’s Attitude Toward Technology Conference: Technology in our hands/Creative Pedagogy and Ambitious Teacher Education.

Sustainable Rural Initiatives’ website can be found here