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Shark Tank: designing for kids

Designing for kids is challenging if you're really speaking to the kids and not the adult who's curating the work. Often the most challenging part is getting past the adult who thinks he/she knows their audience. Or, the other "challenge" is working with the adults who actually do know their audience.

I have two children of my own. I've met many teachers from both public and private schools. What I've discovered over the years is that the best teachers know how to communicate seamlessly with children but may not be so great with adults. They come off aloof or brash. When you look closely you'll find they have similar mannerisms to children but in adult bodies so the behaviors come off rude...which is what makes them child whisperers. They speak their language, in words, tone and whimsy.

When I get to meet someone who impacts children's lives at a deep level I am always in awe. When these same people start organizations devoted to children I'm really in awe because they've managed to successfully walk in both the adult and child world.

Richard Bell, founder of Kid's First Initiative is one of these brilliant people. We met through Catchafire. Kids First Initiative launched a competition for young entrepreneurs in 4th and 5th grade inspired by Shark Tank. They needed to get the word out. Although we were tasked with only a flyer, we took it further by creating social media reels and static posts based off the design.

We had an advantage with this project, our own "home-grown 5th grade test audience" (my daughter). We got her thoughts and final approval for two designs, both selected by Kid's First Initiative. 5th grade is a big growth year as it marks the end of elementary and the beginning of middle school. The maturity and interests of children change vastly between 10 and 11 years old. Each design was meant to appeal to the difference in maturity and both were used for this reason.

This was a fun project to be a part of!



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