Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Creative Studies, M.S.


International Center for Studies in Creativity


Dr. Gerard Puccio

Department Home page

First Reader

Dr. Susan Keller-Mathers


For this master’s project I developed a set of resources (guidebook, videos, and presentation deck) which provide child development professionals with a framework and set of skills to facilitate design thinking challenges (open-ended problem-solving activities based on design thinking’s phases of: creating empathy, problem identification, ideation, prototyping, and idea testing) with preschool age children. The centerpiece of the project is the guide book titled Save the Gingerbread Man: Understanding & Supporting Creative Thinking Skills in Preschoolers. The videos are interviews with preschool age children in a series called From the Experts. The presentation deck incorporates can include the videos in support of the guidebook. The intent of the project’s outcome is twofold. First, to educate early childhood educators about the value and importance of fostering creative thinking skills in young children, and second to provide a resource which allows the educators to act upon the knowledge by facilitating design thinking challenges with young children.


Early childhood education (ECE) is a second career for me. While I have been in the ECE field since 2008, my background is rooted in marketing and advertising. In 2009 I began connecting the phases of design thinking to experiences in the preschool; stories we read, experiences we had, and situations we noticed. During this same time period, I was introduced to open-ended problem-solving challenge at an ECE workshop. The challenge, which I remember well, was how to keep Big Foot safe from the expansion of the city into his territory. This experience was germinal for me to begin introducing design thinking challenges, similar to the Big Foot challenge, to the children at the preschool. Since this initial inspirational moment, the children at our preschool have worked on dozens and dozens of similar challenges. The outcome of design challenges are children: develop their creative thinking skills, are more collaborative in their play, develop their self-concept, and are better prepared for academic and social learning.