Share this page 

Tools of the Trade

Learning, by Design

Design is all around us. Bring your students into the world of graphic design, web design, engineering design, and more with these resources that are sure to get them problem-solving, having fun and thinking outside the box.

By Caeli Mazara

  1. Canva free with option to upgrade to pro

    Canva is an online graphic design resource loaded with creative tools. Students can choose from an enormous library of fonts, images, graphics and templates or import their own. Canva is intuitive, user-friendly and makes sharing creations a breeze.

    Grades: 4-12

  2. KidsThinkDesign free

    This collaborative platform is divided into categories including graphic design, interior design, animation and architecture. Students can be inspired by a real-life pro or get creative and design a museum, build a bridge or engineer a pair of flip-flops.

    Grades: 4-12

  3. The Noun Project often free with attribution

    This massive collection of iconography can get your class thinking about communication without words, across languages, cultures and abilities. Students can download many of the icons for free (with attribution) and use them for storytelling, slide presentations and more.

    Grades: 4-12

  4. Tinkercad free

    This computer-aided-design (CAD) playground for 3D design, electronics and coding offers a range of teaching tools, including free lesson plans. With a user-friendly interface, this tool guides students from inspiration to reality, with options for 3D printing, too.

    Grades: 3-12

  5. The Robot Factory by Tinybop US$2.99

    This design app encourages students to learn through experimentation as they create their own robots. Once made, students move them through different terrains and learn through play what works and what doesn't. Plus, robots can be shared and saved to a gallery.

    Grades: K-8

  6. TED-Ed: Design, Engineering & Technology free

    This huge video library can support many lessons. Consider engineering: "How one design flaw almost toppled a skyscraper," challenge views of our planet: "Why every map in the world is wrong," and dive into fashion design: "The wildly complex anatomy of a sneaker."

    Grades: 3-12

  7. Design Squad Global free

    This site by PBS introduces design concepts, then challenges students to become designers themselves. Projects get them building an emergency shelter, a musical instrument, a lunch box, and more. Students can share creations on the site and explore others' imaginings, too.

    Grades: 3-8

  8. 3DBear AR free

    This augmented reality program allows students to explore 3D illustration and environmental, interior and architectural design. Webinars for teachers on the practical uses of the tech include "Entrepreneurship for kids" and "STEM challenges that motivate students."

    Grades: K-12