Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paving the Way for Projects

Last week, when I discussed our spring rhythm, you might have noticed that we include about an hour each morning for project work.  When we first became inspired by Lori's book, Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners, we baby-stepped our way into project-based homeschooling by incorporating one or two afternoons of project time each week.  Now, project time has become a regular part of our days.  Each morning after required work, the girls work on whatever they want.  Actually, you can also find them working on things at other random parts of the day.   Whether it's studying rocks, reading about foxes, or filming a video, they plan and direct their own learning during that time.  I hang out, ask questions, and give a hand if needed.  It's a wonderful, low-pressure, high-reward addition to our daily rhythm.

drawing dogs

drawing dragons

Lately, we've hovered in between interests.  Some old interests are still hanging around (foxes and dogs, always animals around here), but the girls flit in and out of those as new questions and ideas arise.  They aren't heavily engaged in anything at the moment.  That doesn't mean we don't have project time!  Quite the opposite.

Project time these days is more about experimenting and dabbling.  Following random lines of questioning and playing around with different mediums.  This "play time" gets stored in the backs of their brains, so later, when they do have a project they're ready to dive into, they'll have a full arsenal of ideas for ways to express themselves.  

Fox Habitat
Ella, age 9

Park & Playground
Harper, age 5 

One of the main things we've learned is that interests develop with time and freedom to explore.  Kids need big chunks of time to play, create, read, and question.  They need the freedom to discover their interests.  We have to make room in our days for exploration in order to pave the way for more meaningful projects.  And yes, there will be lulls.  Like now.  And that's completely ok, too.

Warriors Book Series Display
Ella, age 9

The photos here represent a small sample of some of the things the girls have been doing and making.  I'll have a post up in the near future about my oldest's project with rocks, which is one of the few areas we've really dug into recently.

10 comments:

  1. yes, yes, a thousand times yes! between projects is when you refill the well, learn new skills, explore, play, and look for another authentic interest — it’s a natural ebb and flow.

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  2. I love, love, LOVE a good project. Hasn't Lori's book enriched our homeschooling lives?
    Sawyer is currently in an insect phase. There are kill jars with bugs in every room of my house. EEK!

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    1. Yes, indeed!!!

      I thought we were done with the insects for a while, but . . . spring. There are bug cages filled with oak pollen everywhere. Ugh.

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  3. All right, I have a question or eight hundred about this. First, how did you bring up the whole concept to your kids? How to you encourage them to find projects, especially at first? How do you encourage them to work on their projects? What kind of supplies to you have around? is your project area in a part of the house where they spend a lot of time anyway, so they naturally gravitate to it?

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

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    1. Deb, this is gonna require an email . . . or a blog post. ;)
      But I promise I'll answer the best I can!

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  4. (Deb needs to get into Lori's forums posthaste!!)

    I'll be looking forward to hearing what you've done with rocks. I'm impatiently awaiting our set to arrive...two more days, I think the tracking said.

    It's still not easy & natural around here, not all the time. Working on it, as always. I raised my white flag today. Decided the kid who just got diagnosed with asthma is on a medically excused day off. (Since I'm also the school nurse, I set the policy.)

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    1. I need to get my fuzzy brain in gear so I can pull together the resources we used. I THOUGHT I was documenting better. Apparently not.

      You guys definitely deserve a couple of days off. :)

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  5. This is great Michelle!
    In the past these lulls were a bit hard on me. But now I can let it go a bit easier. This is a wonderful reminder for me to keep up with our project time even if it does just look like "play."
    Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Dawn! Yeah, the lulls were hard at first. It was hard to see things happening. But they were. And collecting photos of them during those times and jotting down those notes helped me see the connections and realize how important the lulls actually are.

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