It’s been awhile since I’ve chatted about the project-based learning that’s been happening around here. I guess you could say that we’re taking a self-directed learning break. Instead, we’re focusing on skill-building. The boys have chosen to target some other interests, namely basketball and art for my oldest, and learning Scratch for my youngest. These are their interests, but I am guiding them along with formal lessons and practice (which is sometimes unwelcome, but necessary).
My boys have also been helping me get ready for my summer classes by testing out sewing projects. I’ve been sewing for a long time and often my completed sample projects will look “too fancy,” especially to a new, young sewer. Nothing is more disheartening than comparing your project to your teacher’s example. Therefore, I try to make sure I have some kid-tested samples to show my students. Thankfully, I have two ready-made helpers!
Although we have temporarily moved on to other types of learning, I did want to mention the final presentations for my children’s self-directed country studies. If you remember, my oldest son chose to study Greece and my youngest chose to research Egypt (with a strong focus on ancient Egypt). A month ago, my youngest son presented his poster and was thrilled with the reception he received from his fellow co-op learners.
He put together the poster on his own and even though I wanted to help him with image placement, I bit my tongue. I tried really hard to let him make his own choices and discover where things would fit. I did ask him to lay out his poster BEFORE gluing so we wouldn’t have any major meltdowns. I realize that there’s value in letting them make that mistake, but it was the night before he wanted to present to the class. I’m not sure my nerves could have taken it.
My ten-year-old son had to wait a few extra weeks before he could present his final project. He decided that he wanted to submit his project (and two others) to our local 4-H non-livestock fair. This was his first time entering any projects, but once he saw all of the categories, he became very excited and was thinking about other work that he could submit. He even happily filled out all of the paperwork and I taught him to sign his name. Thankfully, he had chosen to learn cursive this year, so he was ready to put it to good use.
Yes, that is a best in category ribbon on his Greece project. I can’t help but be really proud of all his hard work and determination. That’s not to say that he was always willing to work on his project, but once he got started, he would find more and more items he wanted to include in his book. In order to help him organize it, I showed him how to make a storyboard. Then, he cut out the pieces to arrange the final order.
I definitely proofread his work and pointed out things he needed to correct, but the research, drawings and the topics were all done by him. And, if you don’t mind a little extra bragging, he also received a runner-up ribbon for his book report on The Lightning Thief. Awards for reading and writing? Oh, my little engineer, how far you’ve come!
I think the ribbons meant a lot to him, but we have been careful to let him know that we are proud of him regardless of the awards he’s won. We are happy that he loves learning and makes the effort to try new things – even when it gets hard.