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Design Thinking Process - Ideation

Think like an inventor
Years 5-6

In this lesson students understand design thinking as a process for solving problems creatively. Students explore the design thinking process of ideation and reflect on different ways we can generate ideas in order to solve a problem with a design brief. This particular lesson explores healthy eating through the design brief although the activities can be used to ideate any design.

Learning hook

Show the students the video about teenagers and obesity. It explains some of the problems associated with child obesity and offers some solutions. This video will be used as inspiration for generating different ideas for a digital solution to childhood obesity.

Teen Obesity - Behind the News

Have a discussion with students about the main issues discussed in the video.

  • A national survey of 12,000 Aussie teenagers has found that kids aren't taking good care of their health.
  • Health experts warn that this mix could lead to health problems like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
  • One in four kids are overweight or obese. They drink four or more cups of sweet drinks a week. Half of them have a TV in their bedroom and most have at least three in their house.
  • Kids used to walk to school every day, but now, many are driven.
  • More time is spent playing with technology than playing a sport.
  • The average Aussie kid watches around a dozen junk food ads a day.

Child obesity is a huge problem and we are going to ideate how to find a digital solution to the problem. Ideation is a part of the design thinking process which helps us to open our minds to many different solutions in order to find the solution which will work best.

Learning map and outcomes

The aim of this lesson is to understand how the design process works and to generate different ideas for solving the problem of child obesity. We will use design thinking activities and compare which one was most effective in generating different ideas.


  • Ideation is an important part of the design thinking process
  • Building on each other’s ideas helps us to improve the ideas.
  • We need to generate ideas to realise designed solutions
  • We analyse and develop ideas based on data human interactions.

Learning input

  1. Explain to students that design thinking is a process or approach to how we can think about the problems we are trying to solve. It is a common process in the game and app making industry and is used to solve a variety of problems. A large part of design thinking is developing strategies for understanding the needs of the user and generating innovative solutions.

    The first part of design thinking is to empathise with the users and define what it is you are trying to solve. Then we generate as many ideas as possible. The more ideas you have, the more opportunity you have to find the idea that will suit your design brief. This is the time when you share your craziest and weirdest ideas, as well as your clear and sensible ones, and get all of your ideas on the page without discounting anything. After you brainstorm all of your ideas you analyse and refine these and narrow them down to find the feasible ideas to start to design. Although design thinking has an order, this is not a linear process. At times you will move between prototyping and back to ideation or empathising. It is a fluid process that develops as your design does.

  2. There are many different activities you can help you to ideate such as brainstorming (writing down all of the ideas that come to your mind). When you do these activities you use the energy from the group and its ideas to come up with more ideas and build on it. An important part of ideation is being around others so you can build on their ideas.

Learning construction

  1. Explain to students they are going to participate in some different design thinking activities to help them generate ideas. By creating many different ideas, it will allow them to decide which one suits the design brief best. Remind them that they are considering the design brief.

    • One in four kids are overweight or obese. They drink four or more cups of sweet drinks a week and half of them have a TV in their bedroom. This is becoming a huge problem for schools, families and the community because it can lead to health problems like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
    • Design and make an app or game for young children to play to teach them how to be healthy and active children.
  2. Introduce students to the activity 50 ideas in ten minutes (The number of ideas and time can be changed to suit the group). The idea of this activity is to come up with as many ideas as possible (at least 50) and to ensure you don’t get sidetracked there is a time limit. In order for everyone to get the most ideas down the group will need to ensure they don’t judge each other’s ideas, encourage wild and crazy ideas and use “and” instead of “but” to build on the ideas.

    1. Organise students into groups of three or four.
    2. Give them a table or wall to stick their notes.
    3. Each person will need some sticky notes and a pen.
    4. On a whiteboard write the design brief for students to refer to.
    5. Start the timer for 10 minutes.
    6. Students write down as many one word ideas as they can in the given time.

    An alternative to this is to begin by writing down ideas individually before forming groups and sharing their ideas. Or students write down their ideas on paper and, after a few minutes, they pass on their own piece of paper to another participant who’ll then elaborate on the first person’s ideas and so forth.

    Students complete the activity and share some of their ideas with the whole group.

  3. The next activity is the Attributes Method. Explain to students that they are going to collect different attributes of the games or apps and use these to consider the type of app or game they can make. Attributes are the different features a game or app has. As a group make a list of the different attributes you could have. E.g.

    • Characters
    • Colours
    • Cost
    • Users
    • Type
    • Style
    • Audience
    • Language
    • Music

    Use these headings to create a chart. Give students approximately 15 minutes to complete a list of ideas they can use for each attribute. They may like to consider some of the ideas they did in the brainstorm but there will also be an opportunity to add more ideas under each heading.


    Healthy Eating Game
    Characters Aim Style Setting





    Story of happens when you eat the wrong food.

    Making decisions about what to eat.

    Help the character get to the end.

    Cook a meal.

    Open world


    Points system

    Shot Game


    Shoot game




    School Yard

    Attribute listing is a tool for generating options. It allows you to generate possibilities by first identifying the main attributes (characteristics or qualities) and then exploring new, interesting, or unusual variations of those attributes. When students have a list of attributes they can choose one from each section to create an idea. E.g. Bob in the school yard in a points game where he makes decisions about what to eat. A pirate in a castle gets more and more sick when he eats the wrong foods in a maze. A flamingo needs to cook a meal in an underwater setting.

  4. In the final activity students refine ideas they already have. In groups students reflect on the ideas developed in the brainstorm and attributes list, asking questions such as which of these ideas are feasible and which ones are not? Students look at all of the ideas and then place them into categories such as similarities, craziness or type. Discuss how the students can categorise them in many different ways.
  5. Finally the students will pick one of the favoured ideas from the brainstorm, and expand on the concept by sketching what the app or game may look like.

Learning demo

Give students an opportunity to share the game or app they chose. They should be encouraged to share how they participated in the different activities as well as reflect on which activity they found most useful to ideate.

When sharing, encourage other students to ask questions about the ideas presented. This presentation is an opportunity to unpack their idea further and begin to list the considerations that may be needed in making the app or game.

At this point you may choose to extend the ideation and create a prototype.

Learning reflection

Ask students to reflect on their role in their groups and how they contributed to the team throughout ideation. They should answer questions about how many ideas they had and why they chose the idea they did. They may use the following guide to complete their idea and draw what their solution might look like.

Reflection sheet