Le School Sac

By LeQuyen Tran, August 7, 2008

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

three 50-minute sessions and time for students presentations


Most students use a backpack to bring their belongings to school and back home, and many have a hard time finding things in their backpacks, or do not know if they have certain items in their bags. We are going to look into how students use their bags and see if the bag design and organizational features address each child's particular needs. Then students will try to design a carrier that will better fit their use and needs.  

National Standards


Students will study all the objects they store in their school bag to design a more efficient carrier to bring everything they need for school. They will need to explain why they chose the new features of their carrier as well as why their carrier is better than their actual school bag. They also need to think if their choice will be popular among other users as well as more useful to others.  




  • paper
  • cardboard
  • cloth
  • fabrics
  • scissors
  • glue
  • needles
  • thread
  • pins
  • buttons
  • zippers
  • misc. art supplies


  • features: prominent parts or characteristics
  • carrier: a container for carrying
  • form: a definite or particular shape
  • function: the action for which a thing is specially fitted or used for : purpose
  • efficiency: effective and speedy operation
  • prototype: an original model on which something is patterned


Day 1 1.  Each student brings his/her school bag to their table to study it very carefully. They draw different views of their bag and write detailed descriptions of it. 2.  They list what they usually bring in their backpacks, describe how they put things in and take them out. Are the items they bring important to them or necessary for school learning? Is there some kind of organizational method or is it just stuffing things in and pulling things out in any order? 3.  They should explain how they use or do not use the space inside and outside of the bag, what are the important features of their bag, and what would be other features they wished for in addition. Are they happy with the form and way the bag is carried? Day 2 1.  Explain to the students that they will now design a type of carrier to bring their belongings to school; it should be designed in a way that will help make their life easier both at school and at home. 2.  First they will need to go back to the lists they made on Day 1. These will be the springboard for thinking about how to organize their belongings in an improved carrier, which will allow them to easily put things in and retrieve them without having to dump everything out. 3.  Students should make a list of features they fell are necessary for a carrier to be efficient for them:  pockets, compartments, wheels, fabric choices, ect. 4.  They should start sketching features for both the inside and outside of their carriers. 5.  They can decide whether a school bag is an appropriate shape for their own needs, whether it should be carried over the shoulder or on the back, or held by a handle, or wheeled, or something else.  They can sketch other types of carriers to fit their needs.  They also need to think about the type of materials they would use, lightweight or heavy, waterproof, ect.  Students should be made aware that colors and visibility are also important in the marketing of carriers. Day 3 1. Students finish sketching. They get into groups of three or four and discuss their ideas or ask questions to get some feedback from peer potential buyers. 2.  Then they go back and can make changes to their initial design if needed. 3.  They start building a simple prototype with the materials at hand. Students can take them home to finish. Students also come up with a name for their new improved carrier. Day 4 1.  Students will present their products to the class and explain the special features of their carriers by presenting a comparison poster of their initial bag with its original features and the newly designed bag with its added features. 2.  The class will have a special exhibit afterward and invite other classes to come for a museum walk and student inventors can explain their ideas to others. There can also be a vote for the most efficient carrier, the most colorful one, the most creative one, ect.


Were students able to follow each day's procedures and work productively? Were students able to present a sketch or a prototype and able to explain the choices they made? Differentiation: Students could audiotape or videotape the description of their bags and carrier. Students can use computer drawing programs to make their new designs instead of drawing them by hand.  

Enrichment Extension Activities

1.  Students can create advertisements for their new carrier and look into marketing tools and strategies. 2.  Students can look at different types of materials and colors used for bags and discuss how they appeal to certain types of consumers. 3.  What other jobs require people to bring tools for their jobs? What kinds of carriers do they use? Have those designs changed with time or not?  

Teacher Reflection

It was particularly interesting to read students' reflection on this project. For many it was the first time they actually had to design and make a prototype of some sort, and what they imagined first was not easy to replicate. It really helped to bring multicultural examples of bags to show students how cultures affect design. Some added a cultural or interest detail to their design to make it very personal.

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