I teach high school classes starting with Photoshop and then going into
Illustrator. One very straightforward design problem I give my students is
in Illustrator. I have the students make 4 squares. They are then allowed to
manipulate those squares using the direct select arrow. Once they come up
with an interesting grouping of the squares, they group them and must repeat
them a minimum of 5 times. Most of the time the students repeat the group
significantly more than 5 times. The design must work in black and white and
in color. I have gotten a number of very successful solutions from this.
If you need other info, you can e-mail me privately.