Grade K-4 Sample Problems

Below are a six 
early elementary sample Challenge 2013 problem sets that can be used as a ideas to form your challenge. 
This is the first year we have included this age group and look forward to your insights on ways to refine learning experiences
based their learning needs and capacity. Your feedback and input is welcomed!

We are very fortunate to have the toy maker of the Froebel Blocks as a supporter and participant of Challenge 2013. Mr. Bultman
has graciously offered to share resources for anyone participating in K-4 challenges. Please contact
for more information.

Edutopia along with the Buck Institute for Education offer excellent resources and ideas for project-based learning ideas - some
are already aligned with the 
Common Core State Standards. Note: The Buck Institute website requires a free login.

In addition, offers an ever-growing source of project ideas as well.  

Theme: School Climate
Form of Outcome: Product Design

Theme: Classroom Curriculum
Form of Outcome: User Experience Design

Theme: School Climate
Form of Outcome: Communications Design

Where Do I Put My Stuff?

PROBLEM: Young students struggle to organize and manage their stuff at school

CHALLENGE: Gather materials and objects found in the classroom to then make sense of purpose and usefulness –repeat the process with student’s stuff followed by redesigning the cubby, desk, or locker

CRITICAL QUESTION: What level of impact might this self-directed learning experience have on students compared to a teacher-driven process?


My Best Buddy

PROBLEM: New pets are exciting, however young students rarely allowed to take care of them

CHALLENGE: Bring a favorite stuffed animal to class along with a story to share of how the critter magically came to life – then design a habitat that attends to what the animal says they need and wish for

CRITICAL QUESTION: To what extent will students self-discover the relationships between the make-believe habitat design and real life?

Welcome Home New Friend

PROBLEM: Being a newcomer at school can be a challenging experience, particularly for non-English speakers

CHALLENGE: “Walk through” your first day experience at school, then try to imagine what that might be like for a person who does not speak English – now create a communications design to invite newcomers to feel safe and welcomed

CRITICAL QUESTION: How will students know that the newcomers feel safe and welcomed?


Theme: Neighborhood Improvement
Form of Outcome: Service Design

Theme: Community Awareness
Form of Outcome: Product Design

Theme: Classroom Curriculum
Form of Outcome: User Experience Design

Festival of Natural Learning

PROBLEM: Young students rarely have the opportunity to grow their own food nor engage with their neighborhood community

CHALLENGE: Develop a small plot of land, windowsill, or porch to become a community garden – then invite local neighbors to a Garden Festival where students have the opportunity to share what they have experienced and learned

CRITICAL QUESTION: What level of impact might the practice of creating, maintaining, and sustaining a children’s garden have on the neighborhood?


Kids Need Time to Play

PROBLEM: Young students are not getting enough recess time for self-directed play and exercise

CHALLENGE: Imagine a playground filled with moveable, loose, and safe objects to create new experiences with each session – now design the objects so students can construct their own stories and games as well as tear down for storage

CRITICAL QUESTION: How might the design of the objects make certain students will be safe, as well as encourage new experiences with respectful actions and behaviors?

Carpet Time Takes On New Meaning

PROBLEM: Young students lack transition time between home and school to prepare their minds for learning

CHALLENGE: Visualize one event, activity, or interaction that has taken place since you were last at school – now design a carpet time experience where students feel safe to share, visualize, or represent one new thing they have learned

CRITICAL QUESTION: What level of impact might transitional carpet time experiences have on students’ readiness to engage, attend, and learn during the school day?