Chairs, Chairs, Everywhere…

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, October 2, 2006

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Furniture Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

One or two fifty-minute class periods


Design allows us to both respond and invent. This activity is designed to help students become aware of the multitude of design variations in everyday objects. Students will conduct surveys, collect information, and create a catalog of chairs. They will learn about the diverse ways we use design in daily living.

National Standards

Standard 1. Level II. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process Uses strategies (e.g., adapts focus, organization, point of view; determines knowledge and interests of audience) to write for different audiences (e.g., self, peers, teachers, adults) Uses strategies (e.g., adapts focus, point of view, organization, form) to write for a variety of purposes (e.g., to inform, entertain, explain, describe, record ideas) 
Listening & Speaking
Working With Others


Students will do the following:
  • respond to writing prompts
  • draw artistic renderings
  • conduct Internet research
  • compare, contrast, and evaluate diverse sources of information
  • respond to aesthetic elements of chair design
  • write captions and create a catalog presentation


  • computer with Internet access
  • "The Chair: A Catalog of Design" handout


  • drawing or construction paper
  • markers, crayons, pencils
  • stapler
  • scissors
  • glue


Building Background My Favorite Chair

The purpose of this activity is to help students activate their background knowledge on the activity topic.

1. Ask each student to respond to the following prompts:

  • Write a brief description of your favorite chair.
  • Draw a picture of your favorite chair.
Ask for volunteers to share their responses with their classmates. Post students' drawings so they are visible to the entire class. Lead a group discussion based on the following questions:
  • How are the chairs different from each other?
  • How are the chairs similar to each other?
  • What are some of the words you would use to describe the chairs?

Steps for Learning Cataloging the Chair

The purpose of this activity is to help students become aware of the diversity of design in everyday life. 1. Divide the class into small groups and tell them that they are going to create a catalog that contains different kinds of chairs. Give each group a copy of the "The Chair: A Catalog of Design" handout, and provide the students with construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, markers, and crayons to use in constructing the catalogs. 2. After each group has constructed its catalog, have the students present their work to their classmates. 3. Host a mock design award show using the students' catalog selections. First, as a class, decide what categories you will use for the awards. The following is a list of suggestions:
  • Best Design
  • Worst Design
  • Best Use of Color
  • Most Original Design
  • Worst Pattern
  • Strangest Design
  • Most Uncomfortable
  Teacher Note: These are simply suggestions. Encourage your students to be creative as they think of design award categories. 4. Discuss the results of the award show with your students. Ask them to share what they learned about chairs and design.


Create a class rubric with your students that will help them understand the effectiveness of their design process. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric.-How effective was your brainstorming in generating ideas? Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor-Rate how effectively you analyzed the varied information sources you used. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor-Rate how effectively you included a diverse range of chair styles in your catalog. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate how well you described each item in your catalog. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate your creativity. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate the overall quality of your catalog. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

Enrichment Extension Activities

Furniture Design
Encourage your students to continue exploring furniture design. Ask your students to create a catalog of tables, sofas, or desks.

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