Children’s Design Workshops

Family Design Days @ BSA Space

Family Design Days encourage children and adults to observe, explore and design together. In these hands-on workshops, families are introduced to architecture and design through exhibit tours, walking tours or slide shows, and then complete a hands-on design activity. Architects and Design Educators lead the activities focused on the Built Environment of Boston and the world.

Family Design Days take place one Saturday a month at BSA Space (290 Congress St., Boston) and are designed for children 5 – 13 years old, accompanied by an adult – a maximum ratio of 3 children per 1 adult will be required. Registration is strongly recommended.

Click HERE for current Family Design Day Registration

Student Design Days @ BSA Space

Student Design Days are 2-hour workshops for Grade 3-8 groups visiting BSA Space on Atlantic Wharf. Programs enable students to work with professional architects on hands on design projects. Programs begin with an exhibition tour, neighborhood walk or interactive slide presentation and end with a hands-on design project for student teams.

  • For Grades 3-8
  • Programs are adapted to meet the abilities of different age groups
  • Suitable for homeschool and afterschool groups
  • Available from 10am – 4:30pm M-F

“Learning By Design’s Student Design Day is the perfect combination of children getting the chance to use their imagination while learning about real life practices in a very hands on way. The staff led our children through the exhibit halls and into the creation room with a sense that they were no longer elementary school kids, but budding designers whose ideas and input could change the future. This is a one of a kind learning experience being offered in the Boston area that I know our program will return to again and again.” ~ Jennifer Oconnor, After School Director Newton MA

Click HERE for more information

Information on current Homeschool Classes for age 4 – 7 is HERE for age 8-13 is HERE.

Children’s Design Workshops In Schools

In collaboration with teachers at a school or community site, LBD:MA master teachers and visiting architects plan and co-teach student design sessions. Programs are typically offered once or twice a week for 1.5 hours per session. For programs involving more than one class, a LBD:MA master teacher may teach up to three classes per day.

In addition, teachers and community educators with their own architecture and design curriculum in place can request a visiting architect to assist with that program on a per-session basis. An architect can bring his or her professional expertise to a program, demonstrating schematic and CAD drawing techniques; sharing plans and models; leading an architectural walking tour; or discussing concepts like green building techniques or sustainable design.

LBD:MA programs are based on the design process as outlined in the MA Curriculum Frameworks, and incorporate learning standards in mathematics, science and technology/engineering, social science, English language arts and the visual arts. Click here to view our summary of 21st Century Skills and Design thinking.

Which architecture and design program is right for you and your students? Considerations include your curriculum objectives, number of students and available time frame. After browsing our program listings, please feel free to contact us. We will help you to determine which program and how many sessions will be needed to give your students a successful design experience. See our resources section for a list of past LBD:MA program sites.

For pricing and more information about Children’s Design Workshops,  please contact us.

Archi-Math

Grades 5–8; one to ten sessions

Archi-Math connects learning in Art and Math through hands-on architecture and design projects.  In these projects students in grades 5-8 put skills and knowledge in Mathematics, the Visual Arts, Science and Technology/Engineering, and English Language Arts to practical use.  [Archi-Math Details]

Architectural Walking Tour

Grades K–12; one to three sessions
What can you learn from a walk around the block? A great deal. By observing, measuring, writing and drawing, by taking photographs and map-making, students study architecture and develop a sense of stewardship for their neighborhood. A walking tour is an excellent way to begin the “investigation” phase of many children’s design programs, and to put mathematics, science and arts skills to use in a close-to-home, real-world setting. [Architectural Walking Tour Details]

Block Design

Grades K–2; four sessions
This program takes young children’s block play to the next level. After listening to stories about houses and homes, the children use their own process of design to create small scale people, and then use wooden blocks to build houses for their people. Next, they turn their block houses into simple floor plans and 3-D models; and then write and share stories about their people and their homes. [Block Design Details]

Box City: a Community-Building Program

Grades K–12; Single-grade projects run four to six sessions; whole school events run ten to fifteen days
Box City is an award-winning program developed by the Center for Understanding the Built Environment (CUBE). Students answer the question “What makes a good city?” then work together to design and build a scale-model town from the ground up. As a single class or single grade project, Box City can be the culminating activity for classes learning about community design or architectural history. As a whole-school project, Box City is an inspiring event that simply must be seen to be believed. LBD:MA program staff will coordinate your event, train your staff and oversee the program from beginning to end. [Box City Details]

Designing our Community

Grades 6-12; six to eight sessions
This program show that young people are fully capable of developing solutions for real-world community problems; and that they are eager to communicate their ideas about the remarkable potential of our neighborhoods. In this program students engage in a real community visioning process–developing solutions for a community design project based on a local site.

Students learn to read and use maps and scaled drawings, and then set them to work tackling a local design issue. They visit the site, define their design problem and develop a solution. They draw scale site plans and floor plans, build scale models, create presentation boards and often present their final projects to community members. The process is an excellent way to connect community study with mathematics and design.

This community visioning process can be an important part of a community design charrette, where adults and children envision uses for a given site. When students and adults work together on detailed scale models the process can energize on-going community design efforts. In past programs, middle and high school students have developed and shared their ideas for nature centers, city parks, libraries, museums and community centers. [Designing Our Community Details]

Dream House Design

Grades 3-12; six to twelve sessions
Students use the design process to plan their dream houses. They use drafting boards, T-squares, triangles and templates to draw ¼” = 1’ scale floor plans; and then build a scale model of that house. Older students can make professional-looking foam core models. Younger students design and build scale models of a dream room. Mathematics teachers love this project for its math connections; students love using real tools and communicating their ideas about their homes and their futures. [Dream House Design Details]

Entryway Design

Grades 3-5 run four sessions; Grades 6-12; six sessions
In this project, developed in collaboration with high school math classes, students do in-depth design work by focusing on one entryway in their school or neighborhood. They observe how that entryway—the approach area, the entrance, and the lobby—is used; and develop ways to improve that entryway. They analyze entryways as symbol and as structure; conduct user surveys; measure the entryway using estimation, proportion, modules and “mirror math;” and calculate the slope of stairs. They communicate their ideas for redesigning that entryway through scale plans, elevation drawings, writings and models; and then evaluate and present their designs. [Entryway Design Details]

Houses in Literature

Grades K–6; four sessions
Authors and illustrators communicate their ideas about buildings through words and pictures; architects communicate their ideas through plans and models—all are using the creative process of design. In this program students read stories with a strong sense of place; and then use art, mathematics and language arts skills to create and write about their own scale-model people, homes, landscapes and neighborhoods. [Houses in Literature Details]

Places to Learn/Outdoor Learning Spaces

Grades K–12; four to six sessions
In this program, created with the help of educational facilities architects, students research and design learning spaces. Students consider who will use the space; what makes a good learning place; where is the site; when will it be used and why? In the design phase they communicate their ideas through mapping, drawing, model-building and writing. These activities use real spaces, making this a much-needed project for schools experiencing renovation/building projects.

Outdoor Learning Spaces are programs where students measure and explore the ecology, geometry and structure of real schoolyards and play spaces. They develop their own ideas for their site and draw scale plans, use common craft materials to build scale models, then evaluate and share those models. A solid design tie-in for classes studying schoolyard eco-literacy or planning a playground redesign, this is “place-based education” at its best. [Places to Learn/Outdoor Learning Spaces Details]

Structures

Grades K–8; two to six sessions

How do buildings and bridges stand up? How are our bodies and buildings alike? Your students will answer these questions when LBD:MA brings a wealth of structure activities and resources to your classroom. Children study structures on a walking tour; act out structures with their bodies; and then test structural principles through building projects. Whether you need an architect to enhance an existing bridge-building lesson, or would like us to provide an entire project, structures activities connect science, design and problem-solving in hands-on ways. A session or more on structures can also be integrated into other LBD:MA children’s design workshops. [Structures Details]

Sustainable Design

Grades 5–8; two to six sessions

Kids Design a Sustainable Future [KDSF] is a dynamic sustainable architecture and design curriculum that engages students, teachers and architects in exploring the connections between people, places and nature. This interdisciplinary, project-based program uses interactive slide shows, Massachusetts green-building case studies and hands-on activities to explore the themes of Site, Sun, Wind, Water and Building Materials. [KDSF Program Summary]

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