Hands-on, Minds-on, Hearts-on. That has always been my educational philosophy. One of my graduate school professors shared that saying and it has always stuck with me. The idea of teaching kids by having them get involved in meaningful projects (hands-on), giving them opportunities to ask questions/solve problems (minds-on), and truly enjoying what they are learning (hearts-on) is one of the best ways to help kids love learning, and be curious about their environment and world. 

This teaching pedagogy is called Project-Based Learning. PBL is a teaching method where students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. 

Below are two examples of easy Project-Based Learning you can do at home with your child:

A Day at the Museum

  1. Have your child choose a theme or historical figure (ie outer space, the Boston Tea Party, Anne Frank, Frida Kahlo, etc)
  2. Research that person or topic. 
  3. Have your child use their imagination and come up with items in your home related to their person/topic to be used as “artifacts” in the museum. For example, in the museum of Frida Kahlo you may have used paint brushes or print out some of her art works, a blanket to be used as the blanket that was on her bed during her failing health; or if they’re doing outer space they could gather items such as rocks, sand, and a jar of “gas” that signify the different environments on each planet. 
  4. Once you have at least a handful of artifacts, set up a display of each artifact with information next to it explaining what it is, why it’s important and any pertinent background information. 
  5. Have family/friends visit the museum and ask questions about the artifacts and topic of choice. Your child will love to be the museum’s tour guide and share all that they have learned while creating their museum!
My daughter made a Marie Curie Museum. The project was not structured the way I had imagined it, but she had a great time making it her own way and was very proud to share with us what she had learned!

The Zoo

  1. Have your child use animal figures for their zoo. 
  2. They will first need to choose which animals they want in their zoo and research those animals. 
    • What do their environments need to look like? Dry, humid, lush, wet, cold, etc? 
    • What animals do they get along with and which ones are their prey? 
    • What do they eat? 
  3. Next, your child will build the zoo. They could use any materials in the home; Legos, Magnatiles, popsicles sticks,cardboard boxes, paint, etc. They will need to make holding areas for each of their animals and make sure they are not near or with other animals that are their prey or predator. They will also need to make the environment look like their natural setting and include any food that they may eat. 
  4. The child then writes notes to be placed by each animals space that tells a little bit about them and why they put them where they did and made their environment what it is. 
  5. Friends/family can then visit the zoo and your child will be excited to become the zookeeper and walk their visitors through the zoo while their visitors ask them questions about the animals and their habitat. 

As you can see from these two examples, PBL is such a great way to make learning fun and allow students the freedom to construct their own learning. It has such a meaningful impact on them when they can use their imagination and have more freedom in making the learning theirs.

If you have any questions or need more ideas on Project-Based Learning activities, please contact me. I’d love to have a more in-depth chat about PBL!