Teaching 3rd graders about footwear design

My Girlfriend is a 3rd grade teacher and would like me to come talk to her class about design, specifically footwear design.
In a time where schools are eliminating their art budgets and i feel like this is an incredible opportunity and I don’t want to miss out on the chance.
Has anybody here done something similar?
I would like to do something fun / meaningful with the kids.
Some of the kids parents work in the New Balance factory, so they know a little about shoes.
I have a few ideas, but I thought I would put it out there to see if any of you have done something similar.

Thanks in advance

I do this all the time - infact I did this yesterday. It is great fun and the kids enthusiasm inspires you.

I usually talk about the design process and set a project to help them understand what this is. Earlier on in the year I worked with some kids (aged 11) to understand what a design brief is. We put them into groups of four and they had to pick a celebrity to design for.

They had to make a list of his/her attributes, likes and dislikes. We used this to write a design brief.

They then had to make a storyboard to illustrate this, by cutting up magazines (we’d asked in advance for them to save them up and bring them in). And then we designed the shoes to go with the storyboard.

Some kids went as far as making a 3D shoe out of paper - it was fantastic and totally in proportion.

Yesterday I talked about my career with some older teens. I have a set powerpoint presentation that I use in high schools, covering my career, what a shoe design course covers and explaining the design process.

We then did a question and answer session and I explained to those who were actually applying for footwear courses what they could do to improve their skills and portfolio.

I did a 4week footwear design course for grade 4 kids, I think it was 4 hours a day, once a week for 8 weeks or so. I can help with more info next week when I’m back (in china now). Are you just doing 1 talk, or is it an extended project of some sort?

Doing a 4th year Id course now on footwear design that might also be of help. You can find the link to the course on one of my websites in my sig.

What do they (teachers) hope to get out of it? Kids? You?


I tried this a few years ago with my son’s kindergarten class.
They were excited and curious during the talk and afterwards tried their hands at drawing shoes.
We touched on the engineering and travel aspects, but it was rushed and chaotic with questions and tangents.
The drawing session brought a chorus of kids whining, “I need help!” as I pinballed from desk to desk.
I had brought along several projects for the demo and one of them proved to be a showstopper:
A kid’s soccer cleat with a snake graphic. Suddenly the whole thing became about the snake shoe.
Nearly half of the kids tried to reproduce the snake shoe for their design, which was not my intention.
All told, it was a positive experience and I learned that kindergarteners are probably too young for this.
Third graders would be better.
He is in third grade now, and I’m still famous for the snake shoe. :laughing:

Hey everyone thanks for the feedback.

The school has basically done away with art. The teachers are looking at this as an opportunity for kids to express their creativity through an art/design exercise.

I am hoping to teach them a little bit about the design process, but I am unsure how in depth is appropriate for 8 and 9 yr olds.