Design challenge: a fun family activity for budding designers

Nurture your kids’ imagination and design skills

My children’s favourite car/train game has now become their favourite game on our daily walks. They absolute love to design things. The game began with everyone taking it in turns to design a shop. On different days we set different challenges such as a toy shop, a sweet shop, a pet shop or an ice cream shop. When it is your turn (adults take a turn too), you describe your shop including what it will sell, its name, its decor, the uniform of its staff, its location – any details you can think of. Over time we have broadened out from shops, designing hotels, restaurants, swimming pools, parks and schools. Then we moved away from businesses. My nine year old daughter loves fashion design and she enjoys a challenge to design me an outfit to wear to the park on a cold day or to an elegant ball. My six year old son enjoys designing outlandish cars for superheroes with details of all of their gadgets. They both enjoy designing an invention, “something to keep me cool on a hot day” for example and they love to design a board game (we must have designed hundreds over the years!)

There really is no limit to the ideas you can design. I love seeing their enthusiasm and can see them developing their vocabulary and skills of description alongside stretching their imaginations and creativity. I hope your kids enjoy this game too!

Example ideas for kids to design


  • Toy Shop
  • Sweet Shop
  • Pet Shop
  • Ice Cream Shop
  • Bakery
  • Supermarket
  • Jewellery Shop
  • Gift shop
  • Book Shop
  • Clothes Shop
  • Stationary Shop
  • Sports Shop


  • Hotel
  • Pizza Restaurant 
  • Coffee Shop/Cafe
  • Swimming Pool 
  • Park
  • School 
  • Shopping Centre
  • Museum
  • Games Arcade
  • Bedroom 
  • Garden 
  • Beach 
  • Picnic
  • Superhero outfit
  • Superhero car/plane/bike
  • Superhero lair 

Outfits for:

  • a disco
  • a ball
  • a birthday party
  • Christmas day
  • the park
  • the beach
  • a sleepover 
  • trip to an art gallery 


  • To keep you cool on a hot day
  • To keep you warm on a cold day
  • To take to a beach


  • An ice cream sundae
  • A pudding
  • A birthday cake
  • a chocolate bar
  • a birthday breakfast


  • a new ball game
  • a new board game
  • a new card game (including ideas for top trumps with categories)
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