Doghouses, Doors & Design

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, September 21, 2006

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Technology

Lesson Time

One fifty-minute class period, one homework assignment


In this activity, students will engage in active problem solving as they create a design for a doghouse. They will work in collaborative groups, explore numerical problems, and explain the strategies they used to solve design problems.

National Standards

Standard 1. Level I. Uses a variety of strategies in the problem-solving process
1. Draws pictures to represent problems
2. Uses discussions with teachers and other students to understand problems
3. Explains to others how she or he went about solving a numerical problem
Standard 2. Level I. Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of numbers
3. Understands symbolic, concrete, and pictorial representations of numbers (e.g., written numerals, objects in sets, number lines)
Language Arts
Standard 8. Level I. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
1. Makes contributions in class and group discussions (e.g., reports on ideas and personal knowledge about a topic, initiates conversations, connects ideas and experiences with those of others)
2. Asks and responds to questions (e.g., about the meaning of a story, about the meaning of words or ideas)


Students will do the following:

  • use varied strategies to solve a design problem involving numbers
  • explain their strategies to an audience


  • Internet websites 
  • "Pet House Design" worksheet


  • computer with Internet access


Building Background
Door Adventures & Observations 

The purpose of this activity is to increase students' awareness of design variations in common objects in their environment.

1. Ask the students to discuss the following prompts:

  • Why do rooms have doors?
  • What are doors made of?
  • How many kinds of doors can you think of?


2. Ask each student to draw a picture of a door. Have the students share their drawings with the entire class.

3. Take your students on a tour of the school and ask them to observe all the doors they see. When you return to the classroom, draw a sketch on the board showing how the doors make a connection between rooms.

Steps for Learning
Pet House Design

1. Show the students three pictures of floor plans at the following links, and ask them to locate the doors in each:


2. Divide the class into small groups and give each group a copy of the "Pet House Design" handout. Read the assignment aloud with your students and clarify any questions. Tell the students that they are using the steps of the design process to solve a problem.

3. Provide time for the students to share their work. Ask the students to explain their design to their classmates. Encourage the students to ask questions about the different designs, and how they generated ideas to solve their design task. Talk about how different students solved the doghouse design problem in different ways, and how there are many ways to solve problems.


Teacher Note: You may wish to complete the reflection component with your students.

-Rate your doghouse design.
Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

-Rate your creativity.
Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

-Rate how well you explained your thinking to your classmates.
Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

-Rate how well you shared your ideas with your classmates.
Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

Enrichment Extension Activities

Activity One: Create a Floor plan
Ask your students to draw a floor plan for a bedroom or living room. Have them use the resource at . This is an excellent activity for students to work on at home.

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