Key Stage 2 design and technology: what children learn
In Design and Technology (DT) lessons in KS2, children are expected to:
- Evaluate a range of existing products.
- Design a functional product according to a particular criteria.
- Discuss ideas and develop annotated sketches, cross-sectional and exploded diagrams, prototypes and computer-aided designs.
- Select from tools and equipment to produce products.
- Understand how to strengthen, stiffen and reinforce structures.
- Understand and use mechanical systems in their products, for example gears, pulleys, cams, levers and linkages.
- Understand and use electrical systems in their products, for example, series circuits incorporating switches, bulbs, buzzers and motors.
- Apply their understanding of computing to program, monitor and control their products.
KS2 primary-school design and technology lesson examples
Here are some examples of what children have done in class:
- A Year 3 class developed their making skills by thinking about and combining ingredients according to taste, appearance and texture to create a healthy sandwich.
- A teacher divided his Year 4 class into groups and asked each to select a piece of cardboard packaging for a tube of toothpaste. They looked at its construction, purpose and graphics and then recorded the information. After taking pictures using a digital camera, each group created a net (pattern) for their own design using computer-aided design (CAD) software.
- A Year 5 class met a local toy maker who came armed with a range of old and new mechanical toys, which intrigued the pupils and got them thinking about how things move. This first-hand experience of working with mechanisms got them inspired to try a few experiments of their own.
- A Year 6 class created their own house slippers for different purposes and people. They thought about how to address a range of needs, such as appearance, safety, warmth and size. They learnt how to make accurate patterns and templates and how to produce detailed working drawings. They practised their making and finishing skills to enhance the quality of their slippers. Finally, they evaluated their products critically against design criteria the teacher had given them, and identified what to do to improve them.
The BBC Teach Explain This... short films offer explanations of some KS2 Design and Technology topics, including how to make a structure stronger or waterproof, axles and hinges.
Help your child with design projects at home
- Talk to your child about the role of design in everyday things at home. Make a list together including furniture, décor, clothes, food, cards and presents. They may be surprised just how much there is.
- Fill an old cardboard box with materials your child could use for making things. Recycle things, such as packets, plastic containers, small boxes, little bits of wood, rubber bands, old cotton reels, pieces of fabric, paper clips, string, paper plates, plastic cups, straws, toilet rolls etc. Remember to include design essentials such as glue, sticking tape, a hole punch, a stapler and scissors.
- Give your child a project and encourage them to approach it like a real designer. This will help a lot with the way lessons are taught at school. Choose something that interests your child – cooking a simple dish, making clothes for a doll, designing a model car or plane, or creating a birthday card for a friend.