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A lesson in building shit from a six year old.

A lesson in building shit from a six year old.

Paper prototype

My daughter built a helicopter yesterday.

Her sisters were variously texting, Facebooking, Wii-ing, watching crap TV, bickering and begrudgingly walking the dog.

But she, aged six, took it upon herself to turn a cereal packet and some yogurt pots into a VTOL plaything.

She decided to build shit.

As in #buildshit.

I was presented with said helicopter when I got home last night. And I could not have been more proud.

As a parent I want my kids to explore and experiment as much as possible to discover for themselves where their talents lie.

So as an ideas-junkie and employee of a creative industry I am torn between huge displays of enthusiasm and encouragement, and a fear of imposing personal bias, whenever one of my offspring does something “creative”.

Last night I erred on the side of enthusiasm and encouragement as she described in detail (and I’m not exaggerating here) her initial vision, the practical challenges faced as she moved from idea to execution, how she adapted her approach to overcome these challenges, and how she “user-tested” her work in progress with various Playmobil characters and Happy Meal toys to ensure that they would fit in the cockpit.

Alas, the picture above wasn’t the first in a series of rapid, paper prototype iterations.

Not because she is averse to the principle of failing to learn.

But because, in her view, the first model was entirely fit for purpose.

So she built it and launched it.

(I think you “launch” a helicopter rather than “ship” it.)

And, given that she experienced no significant bugs herself – certainly nothing that acted as a barrier to fun play – and that no significant bugs were reported by her “beta-testing” sisters or parents, she shifted seamlessly from builder mode to user mode.

Agile, lean, spontaneous and joyful.

Job done.


  1. Phil,

    I bloody love this post!

    As a dad of two young kids, I can completely relate to where you’re coming from when you talk about the balance of enthusiasm etc, and also have a fair idea of how proud you must have been at being presented with such cool creation when you arrived home.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. This is great! I too have a 6-year-old that would rather play with the boxes, than with the stuff that came inside the boxes! I love reading things like this, especially when (as you mention) so many other kids are gadget crazed fiends! Have fun with her and keep posting about it!

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