Anyone that knows TDLP will know that working on the Knee High Design Challenge is right up our street. We’ve been brewing up the idea of how TDLP could support families in their home for a while – this is our chance to give it a go.

So we decided to work with two willing families, and ask them to map out their daily routines on a giant bit of paper. From this we began to identify some patterns in family behaviour.


Each family was then visited by a Tea Lady who identified two key areas where we can make a difference:

1. Routines – cooking and eating, brushing your teeth, bedtime, bathtime, “too much TV time” and of course playtime.

2. Changing rooms, changing spaces – safe baby spaces, de-cluttering, interactive furniture, celebrating messy play, theme design.

Our first family identified brushing teeth as a big problem. The youngest daughter in particular sometimes had to be swaddled to get a toothbrush anywhere near her teeth.

Our challenge was to establish an artist intervention that could have an impact through imaginative and physical play.


This week Grace and Leila, aged 2 and 4 will have a visit from the tooth fairy who will visit to check the teeth she planted are spick and span and that he children are practicing their tooth brushing routine in the bathroom. The visit included a series of activities, including a really fun experiment to see what flouride does to your teeth and a TDLP song recorded to support the tooth brushing routine. (We are sure to follow NHS guidelines.)


With the second family it was more difficult to identify a challenge that would be useful for them. Mum Amanda spoke much about socialisation and building confidence to get to know the children’s friends at school. They had yet to have a playdate at their house. Due to the children having some complex disabilities, they have quite a structured routine but not much practical time for spontaneous play. Playtime at home is limited to the front room and much of it is spent on ipads.

We also have been looking at the importance of organisation and presentation of toys and books. Currently there is a pile in the corner, and nothing is easy to find or accessible.


We noticed that Livia has been inspired by the large scale paper, drawing and craft activities we have been introducing.  And since Amanda has been out to purchase some delights from the poundshop!

We thought there might be a way to draw all the observations we were making all into one very loud, visual, multi-functional piece of interactive furniture! Could we take on the challenge of creating one piece that help de-clutter their play environment, encompass the iPad and its positive uses, offer an heuristic and craft exploration, encourage the family to explore their space and time in a different way? Introducing ……The Pink Creator!


We also headed out into Southwark to do some market research. We spoke to members of the public and local businesses to seek feedback on a range or products or services that Creative homes could offer, and whether people would be willing to pay for them.

The next step….

This week the tea ladies will be dropping off the family challenges to the two houses.  The tea ladies (and tooth fairy) will be leading an interactive session with the families to introduce the product and then its over to What’s App to capture the evidence and get feedback on how its going. Feedback from the families will shape how these products are developed and designed, hoping to be accessible to a wider audience in the future.

Coming next……

  • Can the tea ladies get it right?
  • Can we break the rhythm of teeth brushing nightmares and offer a resource that can build a playful, imaginative routine into this family’s life?
  • Can we offer a solution to a clutter of toys that don’t get used, encourage the children to reduce iPad time by incorporating it all into an interactive resource?
  • Can we create a service or product out of an interactive home visit ie a visit from the tooth fairy, that families or agencies will be able to see the impact and tangible benefit, encouraging them to investment?
  • What do people think of Creative Homes?  Hear some initial responses from individual families, housing associations, children’s centers and artists…

Sally, Tea Dance for Little People