Grades 3-5

Designing a Friend

Introduce students to the Engineering Design Process, and guide them through the process of designing an “ideal friend.”

Activity Partner
Total time estimate:
30-60 minutes
Activity Objectives
  • Students will learn about and use the Engineering Design Process to design an "ideal" friend, and then create a prototype of their ideas
  • Students will reflect on shared values, needs, and ideas around friendship, and consider ways to be a better friend to others based on what they learned
  • Art materials to create their prototypes, such as clay, cardboard, pipe cleaners, and paper

This activity supports the development of the following
social-emotional skills: relationship skills, responsible decision-making, self-awareness, and social awareness.


Explain to students that they will learn about and use the Engineering Design Process to create their “ideal friend.” The Engineering Design Process is a series of steps which we can use to 1) define a problem, 2) think of possible solutions, and 3) gather feedback to come up with a final design.

Distribute a copy of the activity packet to each student, and use the slideshow to guide them through the following steps:

  • Define the task by coming up with a question to answer
  • Imagine the characteristics of an ideal friend
  • Develop a plan, or simple sketch, of their design
  • Create a prototype of their ideal friend by using clay, cardboard, or other art materials
  • Test their prototype with a partner and provide feedback to each other
  • Use their partner's feedback to develop a final design and share it with the class!

During each step, students will draw or take notes in their packet, and then build and share their prototype at the end of the activity! 


Share your students’ prototypes with your Empatico partner class (e.g., through a live virtual exchange or a tool like Flipgrid or Padlet). Invite students to share about their design, which characteristics they included and why, how they created their prototype, and what they learned about being a good friend. Then, encourage them to give each other compliments and constructive feedback on their designs!


Guide students through a post-activity reflection by asking the following questions:

  • What were some similarities and differences between our designs?
  • What did you learn about your classmates from this activity? What are some of their values, needs, and ideas around friendship?
  • Did you learn any new ways to be a better friend?  

This activity was created in partnership with Kristin Harrington.

Did you finish this activity? We'd love your input.