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Design Technology in the Early Years

Children's learning in design technology begins in the Early Years where the foundations for future knowledge, skills development and acquisition and understanding are laid down. Learning if design technology is delivered through the Knowledge and Understanding of the World strand of the EYFS curriculum. 

From birth children are making choices and decisions (evaluating), mainly about their food and their toys. At first, parents are making those decisions and gradually, as children interact with the world, they engage in different ways and show preferences for different products making informed decisions. Children are naturally curious about the world around them and this needs to be fostered and encouraged in early years and as the children move into the more formal curriculum in Key Stages 1 & 2.

The Early Years Curriculum supports learning in Design Technology through:

  • Adults fostering children’s curiosity and creativity through asking questions.

  • A learning environment that is set up for children to explore, particularly different structures and mechanisms.

  • Encouraging role pay and developing real-life play opportunities by creating builders yards, DIY shops, textile shops, and cafes where children have  designed and made some of the products within them.

  • Encouraging risk taking. Letting children try things out and not worrying if they fail the first time.

  • Developing a ‘can do’ approach to learning.

  • Using occasions such as school events, celebrations and festivals to provide opportunities for authentic activities around designing and making products – particularly using food and making cards.

In developing provision for Design Technology in EYFS we can group the provision into four main areas:


  • Making things using a range of materials such as wooden blocks, sand and water play and using construction kits.

  • Making things for a purpose, beginning to change and adapt their ideas whilst they are constructing.

  • Reflecting upon and refining their final creations.

  • Creating simple products such as a paper carrier bag or a spoon puppet.



Simple guided cookery activities lay the foundations for further work later in the school. Children have the opportunity to add and combine different ingredients learning techniques such as stirring.



  • Giving the children opportunities to explore through  Tinker Tables and though taking things apart to discover how things work and how they are made.

  • Giving the children opportunities to explore and experience different materials and their properties

This lays the groundwork for future learning around evaluating existing products, understanding systems and how they make things work.


Using a Range of Tools

  • Introducing children to tools and equipment such as staplers sticky tape, scissors or simple cookery equipment, knowing what to use them for and how to use them correctly.

  • As children experience using different tools they will get better at using them and develop an understanding of choosing the correct tool for the task.

And the key element that binds this altogether is children discussing their learning, encouraging them to ask challenging questions  and developing and extending their vocabulary.

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