Home learning focus

Learn the basics of designing and working to a design specification.

This lesson includes:

  • two video clips demonstrating making 3D models and producing a design specification

  • two activities to try at home


Designs can be broken down into 2D and 3D shapes.

2D Shapes3D Shapes
circlespheres and cylinders
trianglestriangular prisms and pyramids

3D shapes can be constructed from nets - they are cleverly designed and include built in tabs for gluing the 3D shape together and can then be developed into design sketches.

Models are a way of communicating an idea in 3D, and often make use of nets. They can either be digital or physical.

Physical models can be made from a variety of materials, including paper, card and recycled materials, or they can even be 3D printed.

Sketches can be produced quickly, just using a pencil and some paper.

They can then be drawn in 3D, showing more than one face of the product. However, models really help to see what a product might look like when finished.

Models can be made full sized or scaled down. They can be picked up, passed between customers and clients, and sometimes they even function like the end product.

They can give an idea of how product might be made and can identify and resolve manufacturing mistakes early on, saving time and money.

The following video, taken from the 'I Want to Design' series, demonstrates how to make a 3D model of a room out of card. Advice is given about which tools to use and the folding and joining techniques are explained; as well as how to add finishing touches.

Making a 3D model of a room.

When a designer starts work on a new project, they often work to a design specification.

Also called a 'design spec', it is like a set of rules that the designer must follow to ensure that products are suitable for the person they are being made for.

It covers things about the end product such as:

  • size
  • shape
  • function
  • how it's maintained or powered

The design spec can come from many sources, such as:

  • looking at existing products
  • talking to people
  • conducting a survey
  • market research

Great designs should solve a problem, and the design specification comes from exploring the solution to that problem.

Each time the designer sketches an idea that might lead to solving the problem, they often label their designs with points from the specification, almost like a checklist.

In the following video, taken from the 'Design Challenge' series, a team of children to research, design and make a nightlight for a toddler using recycled materials.

The children go to meet little Elodie and her Mum to research the design requirements, which will form their design specification.

How to design and make a nightlight for a toddler.


Now you can try and put some of what you have learned about features of designs, models and design specifications into action.

Activity 1

Nets can be produced using an industrial die cutter, which cuts and scores at the same time, but at home you can do this yourself.

You can download the nets that are provided, change these designs slightly or design your own net for a 3D shape.

You will need a pencil, a ruler, paper or card and a pair of safety scissors.

Activity 1

Activity 2

When you are designing for someone else, they are known as the client.

Most adults will have a phone or tablet - build a design specification for a holder for their device, and then produce some example designs that meet this design specification.

You will need to consider the size, shape and material as well as where it will be used. The angle that the device is held at will come down to the personal preference of your client.

You can use the worksheet provided and you will need a pencil, paper and a 'client'.

Activity 2

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

Bitesize Daily lessons
Primary Design and Technology
BBC Teach Design and Technology