Dismissal by Design

By Christine Squassoni, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • School Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

45 minutes


In designing public spaces; use, safety, and efficiency must be taken into account. This engaging lesson will provide students with the opportunity to analyze a real world problem (their dismissal routine) and brainstorm/model ways to solve it.

National Standards

Visual Arts Standard 2 (Level II): Knows how to use structures Benchmark 3: Uses visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas. English Language Arts Speaking and Listening: SL.1.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with peers and adults in small and large groups SL.1.2 Ask and answer questions about information presented SL.1.4 Describe people, places, things, and events with details SL.1.5 Add visual displays to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Life Skills Thinking and Reasoning Standard 5: Applies problem-solving techniques Standard 6: Applies decision-making techniques Working With Others Standard 1: Contributes to the overall effort of a group. Geography Standard: The World in Spatial Terms Benchmark 1: Understands the characteristics and uses of maps Standard: Environment and Society Benchmark 15: Understands how physical systems affect human systems.


Students will be able to identify a problem and address needs through careful observation. Students will be able to work collaboratively to solve a problem. Students will be able to share what they have created with classmates.


Smartboard,computer, camera


Cardboard, straws, wire, pipe cleaners, coffee filters, corrugated paper, masking tape, paper bags, colored index cards, toilet paper rolls, scissors   Images of traffic jams or large crowds may help introduce topic/problem. A video of student’s actual dismissal routine is best.


Efficient: a safe, well-organized, non-wasteful way of doing something              Flow: to move in a continuous and smooth way


1. Review dismissal routine as it exists. What is the purpose and what are the goals of this routine? How effective is this routine? Watch video of dismissal previously recorded by teacher. What are some of the difficulties observed? Reflect upon personal and related experiences. What do we need to improve this routine and achieve our goals? Additional questions: How do you feel when you are at dismissal? Are you tired? Are you comfortable? Why or why not? How do you want to feel at this time of day? What will you be doing next? Is there any way to use this time to prepare for that? Brainstorm a list of possible solutions to problems identified. If playful, fantastical ideas pop up make a whimsical list of things we might want during dismissal but reinforce the realistic need we have for improving difficulties observed on the video. 2. Ready-Set-Design Partner Challenge: How might you design a courtyard seating arrangement to safely accommodate all students and help them get into the carpool cue most effectively?                                                                                                                                                            Students will be given a square of cardboard (to represent dismissal courtyard) and a bag of supplies with which to create a dismissal map/model. 3. Gallery walk/partner group share: Class walks to each model at which point responsible partners step forward to explain elements of design and how they facilitate dismissal. Use a timer to evenly appropriate time (about 3 minutes per group or 1.5 minutes each speaker.)


Teacher will informally assess student’s idea generation and collaborative skills during partner brainstorming and model production. Teacher will informally assess communication skills during presentations.

Enrichment Extension Activities

In a follow-up lesson students might create a list of rules related to dismissal. This could develop ownership and responsibility for actions during this part of the day. Students can also be asked to identify other flow issues around campus or in the community and to consider possible solutions. This lesson will help encourage students to be observant problem solvers and to consider the needs of others.

Teacher Reflection

This lesson was a lot of fun. We identified many ways to improve our routine and the way we assemble ourselves during dismissal. To avoid whimsical elements (like a catapult system to toss you into an open car window) being incorporated into the prototype make sure to generate ideas as a class and distinguish between realistic and fantastical elements. Also, it would be wise to have a timer on hand during the group share for appropriating time evenly.

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