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Project based learning....I'm intrigued! Ideas/advice please.

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I feel like my 8 (nearly 9) year old is not paying attention nor retaining when we learn about science, history, geography, etc. I just learned about project based learning the other day. Basically we do a unit on a specific topic (weather, the Civil War, mountain ranges, Native Americans, etc).....we read books, research information, watch videos, and all that. And then I turn my child loose with a project. My 8 year old DD is very....stubborn. She wants to follow her own directions rather than mine. I figure this might be a good compromise. I read on a blog where this homeschooling mother gave her children a list of about 4 projects to choose from. They chose which they wanted to do (which still allowed parental guidance but the child also got a choice in the matter) and they ran with it. I figure this could either be a genius move or a disastrous one.


What happens when the child comes back with sub par results? What if my child chooses to make a lapbook and writes three facts in there....(1) Red foxes are red. (2) They live in the forest. (3) Baby foxes are called kits. I wouldn't find this to be sufficient for a project. Do I send the child back? Do I conclude that they are not self motivated enough for project based learning?


With project based learning do you check for proper grammar? Sentence structure? Spelling? Neat handwriting? Or do you go by the facts presented and the information retention only?


Also, what sort of materials do you consistently keep on hand for PBL? I figure the basics....paper, glue, file folders for lapbooks, etc. And I guess I'd probably need to keep things like boxes for diaramas, empty toilet tissue rolls, etc.


I figured that I would also keep a basket of project books on hand for my daughter to flip through for ideas. Does anyone have any recommendations for project books (history, geography, science, biography..any of those). I think I already have some history pockets on hand, which I'll throw in there.


What other types of things would be good to keep on hand? We have some Legos, which could be used to make models. We also have Playmobil, but not any specific historical sets. Maybe get some plastic army men for battle scenes? I could probably grab those at the Dollar Tree.


I'm excited about this....I'm hoping that DD will take it and run. But I'm a little afraid of what to do if I feel like she hasn't put her all into a project.


Also, any blogs, ideas, pinterest boards.....I'd love the links! I found a fabulous blog the other day about PBL (can't remember the name right now) but she gave examples in detail of her children's projects.

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If your child produces a lap book with three sentences in it then clearly they were not interested in the subject matter. True PBL is allowing the child to choose their own interests whatever they might be and use it to induce learning. Giving them four topics too choose from is still parent led education.


With PBL you don't do a mini unit about the topic and then ask the child to complete a project -that is what schools do. You let the child take control from the onset. Depending on their age you help them out or give input as asked. They choose the topic. They choose the books or method of research and they choose what they will do with the information. They may want to make a lap book or construct a diorama or make a poster or write a story. It is completely up to them how they choose to use this information.


My 6yo asked to go to the library the other day to borrow books on gardening. I helped her find them and gave suggestions on books that would be suitable for her reading level but ultimately let her choose those she felt she needed.


So far all she has done with it is read and read and read and asked me many questions on how you would do such and such. I know the time will come when she is done reading and starts asking me for supplies LOL. I have a gardening lap book that I got free once so I let her know I have it. She did express interest in wanting to do it but hasn't asked for it yet -she is still reading.


The point of PBL is not really about the topic or the amassing of knowledge about something. Which is why it is ok for a child to choose whatever topic they like. The point is about the process they go through as they learn and create and reflect and use the information they have to produce something of their own creation. To use critical thinking skills to evaluate what information is useful to them and how they can express it in ways that are meaningful to them. It is not about producing a perfect, finished product but about learning how to learn.

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Have you read Lori Pickert's Project Based Homeschooling book and blog? She has a forum there and it's really good! Her children are teens now, but lots of people on the forum have younger children.


I really like her method of limiting, but still including, certain skills work that she and her children agree need to be practiced most days, but allowing plenty of time, space, and resources for children to investigate, explore, create and learn.


Her book is very interesting, and gives tips on how to become more of a mentor to our children.



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What sewing mama said :)


I think you seem to be more thinking about Learning with Projects, or Hands-On Homeschooling rather than PBL (which is similar to a lot of so-called PBL in schools, not all, but most).


The Project Based Learning/Homeschooling I am familiar with is more close to unschooling/child-led learning, so I will take about that (and yes, a fantabulous book to help with this is Project Based Homeschooling by Pickert).


1. Accessibility - We have a tendency to lock all the supplies away, in "do not touch" areas. The children always have to ask for what they need without knowing what exactly you have. Think more about displaying the craft supplies (and there are many attractive ways to do so) which provides a way for the child to see what there is, and do something with it.


2. PBL is based around childrens interests, and you follow their lead, not the opposite. The basic premise follows the child wants to make "something", and it follows a rabbit trail of info, researching etc to the final result. It is similar to a unit study in that they can end up learning measurements, LA, math, science, social studies, health etc, depending on what the project is, and the obstacles they need to overcome to get there. Think of it akin to you wanting to for your hobby out of the blue, make a working robot or a realistic model of your town, you would then research how to make it down to the detail, if you didn't have something, you would brainstorm how to substitute it, along the way you may end up down rabbit trails (find out the history of the local theatre, and how it ended up closed, which may end up as a full local history or experimenting with different techniques to get the robot to work)


3. Creekside Learning (Julie's Blog, aka project based homeschooling) seems to be based around/inspired upon the Reggio method, which might be something to look at. With anything, I always say, research, research, research. After I have researched enough of the whos, whats and whys, I tend to chuck everything out the window, keep the golden nuggets of info that suit me, and do it my way. So just because a particular method says to do something, you don't have to follow. Merely finding out the reason why they want you to do that would be good enough, you can then adapt it to fit your situation. (of course, if they say something that you agree with, go ahead :p)


4. Most children and adults won't fit perfectly into a labelled box. (even if it seems like they do, somwhere, you may be squishing parts of them in there to make them fit :p )


5. Try looking into things like unschooling, child led learning, and gently directed learning, as well as unschooly games, and what I like to call "sneaky persuasion methods" (they aren't really called that, but they are ways of gently steering your child in a given direction without the child realizing your doing it, the child tends to think its their own idea) these might be possible ways to get past that bump.


I have more ideas, but I have been successfully interrupted about 7 times since starting this and its taken me 2 1/2 hours to finish writing it (now that is completely insane! but irrelevant to the topic... ;)

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I have a 12 yr old who learns hands on best and visually so we follow curriculum but along the way stop to incorporate lapbooks and projects. I use free lapbooks

we find online or I do buy some from Hands of a Child. For our history study right now we are using the Time Travelers Unit studies as supplements. I find she is

retaining what she is learning very well. We need structure when working on lapbooks otherwise she is all over the place so I choose to use created unit studies rather

than make my own. Maybe you can try some of the free lapbooks and have her choose what she wants to include from the instructions. We dont include all of the

suggested projects and we pick what we want out of them otherwise we would be working on them all day. Games are another fun way to help her retain information.

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Wanted to add that last summer we used MBtP 8-10 Curriculum- Concept 3: Unit 1. It covered Africa and Asia. The literature was Akimbo and the Crocodile and Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Obviously, it was a social studies unit. There was a lot of output.


Although ds read the books and science kits, he didn't finish the output for MBtP 8-10 Curriculum- Concept 3: Unit 2.


This summer we plan to just purchase 1 unit. We just have too much going on for ds to complete the output. Thursday we looked at MBtP 9-11 Curriculum and he chose Concept 4: Unit 1. It covers space and uses A Wrinkle in Time, so this summer it will be a science unit. :)


So, he chose the topic and I will give him some decision making power regarding altering some of the output, but it is not totally by-the-seat-of-his-pants delight directed. Also, someone else has seen to it that age appropriate skills are covers. I am comfortable with this compromise for summer learning, but for some reason can't bring myself to do it for our school year curriculum.




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