Design Basics Instruction Guide


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Duration: 5 weeks
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Bookmark Project

Project Brief

The shift to online and hybrid teaching in k-12 education (due to the pandemic) brought about many challenges as well as new opportunities. In person, elementary students often completed assignments by using the typical tools of pencil and paper, now, in the online context, the use of various digital platforms, tools, and media has been introduced. In this new context, elementary aged students respond to and complete assignments by creating posters, videos, slide decks, etc. They complete these artifacts either  individually or collaboratively and sometimes the responses are hand-drawn/written then presented digitally. These types of responses to assignments are being used by their teachers to gage their understanding of what they are learning. In these scenarios, students are inadvertently becoming “visual communicators”. While the many digital tools and applications elementary students are using offer “visual communication” features and elements, students are unaware of the design principles and methods they could be and might already be using. This project asks graphic design students to reflect, respond, and transfer knowledge from previous coursework in Graphic Design and account for elementary students, specifically 3-4th graders (9–10 year olds), in their explanation of one design principle through a short (30s-50s) animated motion graphic.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will each select one design principal (from this list) and reference the book Graphic Design The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips and Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton.
  • Students will work collaboratively to diagram what they know and assume about their audience, generating 2-3 questions.
  • Students will work collaboratively to conduct visual research on the visual preferences, learning tools, and media currently available and used in K-12 education.
  • Student will individually plan for all aspects of their motion piece through the use of a visual tool commonly used in motion design called a storyboard.
  • Students will determine an aesthetic tone appropriate for the audience and show this through the use of one or two style frames.
  • Students will make motion design that realizes and combines their plans from their storyboards and the aesthetics from the style frames.
  • Students practice critically viewing and discussing design through their active participation in the critique of work and the work of their peers.


Select + Reference Materials
Visual Research
Style Frames
Critique Participation
(all process work was shared in a collective miro board)

30–50s Motion Design (created with After Effects, with or without voice over)



Graphic Design The New Basics by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips
Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton


This project asks students to reflect, respond, and transfer knowledge from previous coursework in Graphic Design. It was a good way to discuss what they had learned in previous classes and "hit home" the idea that we learn more about something when we have to explain it to someone else! It was a first project in a Graphic Design two studio course. Directing the audience scope was beneficial because it focused their attention to the communicative aspects of their decisions versus formal choices based in their preference and taste. 

The project was created for a remote teaching and learning scenario during the pandemic, however I am eager to try this project again in-person. Because of this (and the fact many of the students were new to After Effects and thinking about motion and sequence) I created detailed directions and tutorials for the students. I would be willing to share these materials if anyone wants to try this project out, email me!

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