Kindergarten Puts Design Thinking into Action

Oct 31, 2018 | All School, Build People Up, Come to Play, Design Thinking, Impact, Inquiry, Lower School News

It comes as no surprise that Design Thinking (DT) is not only infused through learning experiences in Preschool through grade 12 at Mount Vernon, but embraced, practiced, executed, and appreciated throughout, as well. We are Mount Vernon.
The Kindergarten team (Michele Guttery, Meghan Fedor, Addy DeVore, Lindsey Whitehead, Christine Keleman, and Sarah Wright) recently recognized a need in their common space and brought their students on a DT journey. This is their story.
In Kindergarten, we watched a video of students playing with blocks. We identified what we saw and heard during the video, eventually determining how frustrating it must be to play in a  crowded space, with limited materials, and a lot of arguing and mean tones of voices. From there, we challenged ourselves to create our own area where we could play kindly and safely, together.
As a group, we took a gallery walk through our K Commons, making a list of materials and furniture that we saw, and another list of items we wished we could play with. We then sorted our “wish list” items into activities that would be reasonable to manage in our K Commons, and alternately, those which would be impractical. Each student then voted on their three favorite activities. Based on the votes, specific activity centers were set up where groups of students began to test their product. 
After exploring each center, students made a list of things that bugged them about their centers, followed by brainstorming solutions to their “bugs.” The plan is to have free choice time in the afternoons for students to further analyze the possibilities for fixing the “bugs,” while determining whether or not they need new or different materials.
“I’m excited to play at tinkering. I like making cute monsters out of paper squares, googly eyes, and glitter.” -Brooke
“I think we should move the Book Nook into somewhere quieter like Mrs. Fedor’s room. I was really trying to focus on my reading and the pretend cats on the stage were meowing really loud.” – Brooke
“I thought that people made good choices with stickers. We made good, reasonable choices.” -Brady
“I like the K Commons because everyone comes there. I get to see my friends. I like the stage.” – Ava
“I think we need a clean-up song to make us more efficient. Clean-up is going too slow.” – Landon
Students have taken this challenge very seriously and come to us often with ideas about what should change if they notice something is not going well. For example, when tinkering with beads they asked for plates, or to replace the round beads with square beads, so the beads would not roll onto the floor so easily.