I had other course design pieces I was going to publish sooner, but today when my eldest and I started to go over the Grade 2 Competencies for Applied Design, Skills and Technologies a project evolved that I’m ridiculously stoked for!

We’d started with an interests survey: talking about a bunch of the things he’s interested in and project ideas he likes. Lego was the first thing to come up, and as we talked about ADST we developed the idea of making a custom LEGO set as a perfect way of fulfilling all the competencies while also offering fun hooks into math, arts and English. From planning to promotion and possibly including custom piece design, this project promises to be a great year-long piece.

So, here’s the first draft outline we’ve developed.


The Project: Create and promote a custom lego-set, complete with packaging, instruction manual, and back-story for the set.


Stepping our way through the Competencies, normal text is from the curriculum, italic is our project:

  • Applied Design
    • Ideating
      • Identify needs and opportunities for designing, through exploration
        • What sort of set to make? New kind or an existing line? What sort of things to include? How to make it as fun as possible for building / playing.
        • We may do a field trip to Seattle for BrickCon to gather ideas and think about what makes for a great LEGO experience.
      • Generate ideas from their experiences and interests
        • What are his favourite sets? Why?
        • Possibly a ruin with explorers, with one configuration for exploration of old ruins, and one for a ruined village with villagers trying to rebuild it.
      • Add to others’ ideas
        • Come up with ideal team to brainstorm and refine ideas with.
        • A friend of ours extensively involved in the local LEGO builder’s scene will meet with us to help him think about what makes for a great set, and think about what goes into a build.
      • Choose an idea to pursue
        • Assess and choose between ideas from group
    • Making
      • Choose tools and materials
        • Lego for building
        • Pen & paper for box construction, idea sketches, etc.
        • Transcription to capture some of his text for the box & back story
        • We’ll work on writing for the box itself, plus build a vocab list.
        • We’ll use the “LEGO Digital Designer” software to mock up the set, get a brick count, and create the instruction manual. I’ll help him with it, but he’ll learn the basics of how to use it and develop his LEGO vocab.
      • Make a product using known procedures or through modelling of others
        • See above
      • Use trial and error to amke changes, solve problems, or incorporate new ideas from self or others
        • We’ll use this as a chance to discuss Minimum Viable Product, and talk about and use the design cycle (design, build, test, improve) to make the set strong, engaging, etc.
    • Sharing
      • Decide on how and with whom to share their product
        • We’ll work on making a youtube video showcasing the set, as well as posters for his school.
      • Demonstrate their product, tell the story of designing and making their product, and explain how their product contributes to the individual, family, community, and/or environment
        • We’ll do a mixture of youtube and in-person presentation possibly at his school and probably in our community.
        • We’ll write to LEGO to see if they are interested in sponsoring his work if he documents it well (or at least give some encouragement)
        • We may think and write about how what the individual, family, community and environmental goods are that come from rebuilding after disaster or exploring and documenting ruins (if that’s the set he wants to do).
      • Use personal preferences to evaluate the success of their design solutions
        • After we build and play with the set, we’ll review.
      • Reflect on their ability to work effectively both as individuals and collaboratively in a group
        • We’ll review and talk about what was fun, what was challenging, and learnings about group and individual work from each phase. We’ll do this periodically through the process.
    • Applied Skills
      • Use materials, tools, and technologies in a safe manner in both physical and digital environments.
        • We’ll work on storage & long term construction of LEGO, LEGO Digital Designer basics & best practices, and ideally build at least one custom LEGO piece using a 3d printer.
      • Develop their skills and add new ones through play and collaborative work
        • Loads of that throughout
    • Applied Technologies
      • Explore the use of simple, available tools and technologies to extend their capabilities.
        • LEGO Digital Designer, 3d Modelling, and potentially techniques for sorting LEGO pieces will all be key.


For each course, we’ll be doing something similar – not always a large project, sometimes a collection of small projects, but always looking at how to interface interests with the competencies, using concrete examples each stage of the way.


Of course, in writing back-story for the set and material for it we’ll be able to incorporate English and Drama (basic elements of story).

Math is incredibly easy to incorporate in terms of brick counts, space required, cost for set, alignment of elements, etc.

We’ll also look a bit at Career Education, though the specific competencies required for Grade 2 we’ll approach through other projects.

Let me know what you think of the format for presenting this, and if you have any questions or would like to see other aspects of our course / project planning process!