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        Generating Ideas | Lesson Plan

        Students learn to generate ideas for innovation using two different approaches in this lesson plan from NOVA Education. In the first approach, ideas are generated based on inspiration drawn from existing materials and found objects. In the second approach, students generate ideas based on the needs of different user demographics around the world. All ideas generated by these two approaches contribute to the design thinking process for creating innovative solutions to the world's complex problems.

        Lesson Summary

        In this lesson, students will learn to consciously engage in the idea generation process.

        This is the first lesson in a four-part collection entitled "The Design Process: From Idea to Solution."

        Time Allotment

        40-60 minutes

        Learning Objectives

        Students will learn to systematically generate ideas for innovation using two distinct approaches.

        Prep for Teachers

        Arrange desks or tables in the classroom so students can form groups. Prior to the beginning of the lesson, distribute inspirational objects to each table group.

        (Optional) Before you begin the lesson, generate a list of leading questions that you will use to help students in the event that they have trouble generating ideas.

        Instruct the students to form groups and sit with their group mates.


        Inspirational materials. For example:

        • Picture books
        • Magazines
        • Found objects
        • Visual art pieces

        Other materials:

        • Post-it notes (regular size)
        • Pencils
        • Erasers

        Introductory Activity


        Watch the video entitled Generating Ideas.

        Learning Activities

        Method #1: Quantity Over Quality

        Tell the students that they are to engage in the same exercise seen in the video, using the various objects to inspire creative and potentially innovative ideas.

        Explain that at this early phase of the innovation process, the emphasis is not on coming up with ideas of high quality, but rather, on generating as many ideas as possible. Re-emphasize this point as done in the video, including the phrase:

        This is about quantity of ideas, not quality of ideas.

        Record Your Ideas

        Explain to the students that as in the video, they will be using the post-it notes to record their ideas. Each time a student thinks of an idea, she should record the idea by writing it down on a post-it note.

        Group Inspiration

        Tell students that whenever they come up with an idea, they should call it out to their group mates. This call-out process is critical, as it allows the students to build ideas and material in a collaborative fashion.

        Allow the students 20-30 minutes to generate ideas.

        (Optional) Method #2: Framing the Problem

        Explain to the students that they are going to engage in the second method of idea generation shown in the video. To begin, ask the students to volunteer a few "problem frames. " The students can use the following sentence format:

        To solve ___, what is the best way to ___?”

        Have the students break into groups and generate questions using this format. Allow 10-15 minutes.

        After allowing students to generate questions, convene the class and ask each group to share one of their problem frames. Confirm that students are framing their problems correctly.

        Once the students have generated a variety of properly framed problems, instruct them to proceed to answer those questions, thus generating ideas. Allow 5-10 minutes.


        The output produced during this first lesson is crucial, for it will pay dividends during the later phases when the material generated is refined and used as part of a strategic approach to building innovative products.


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