Traditional tales and imaginary contexts in primary design and technology: a case study.

Matt McLain, Mel McLain, Jess Tsai, Martin Mike, Dawne Bell, David Wooff

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Working with contexts is a key component to design and technology activity and education. The most recent iteration of the national curriculum programme of study for design and technology, in England, sets out that children between the ages of 5 and 7 “should work in a range of relevant contexts” (DfE, 2013: 193); suggested contexts including “home and school, gardens and playgrounds, the local community, industry and the wider environment”. Whilst these are real world and familiar contexts, fictional contexts also provide opportunities for developing “creative spaces” in which to speculate and discuss. This intrinsic case study explores the work of two primary teachers’ development of a design and technology activity, where traditional tales provide the context. Children explore design problems and opportunities through the eyes of the Billy Goats Gruff, as they seek assistance to cross the river. Data was gathered through semistructured interviews and document analysis of children’s design work. The case study reveals how multidisciplinary and imaginative approaches to teaching and learning in the primary classroom simulate and nurture design thinking, dialogue and critique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-40
JournalDesign and Technology Education: An International Journal
Issue number2
Early online date3 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2017


  • creativity
  • design
  • primary design andtechnology
  • traditional tales
  • design fiction


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