Last week, we were presented with “Project-based learning in action at HoK!” Series 1. We received a glimpse into the fascinating projects our classes of different age groups in House of Knowledge have been working on.

Project-based learning in a Reggio inspired environment is our main educational approach here at House of Knowledge. It enables the students to learn and explore the world around them through a variety of angles and dimensions which consistently evoke and inspire students to be creative, to develop their design thinking, as well as their confidence and gain courage to face all challenges and solve all problems during their inquiry journey.

Today, we are very pleased to have invited Ms. Holly, the Lead Teacher of Pre-K English Class (age group: 3-5 years old students) to share some of her thoughts regarding project-based learning approach in her daily teaching.

The recent theme of our English Pre-K class is ‘Insects’. Let’s follow Ms. Holly to explore a mysterious and fascinating wonderland of „Insects“ together!

How did we decide on this project?

I first noticed that the children were showing interest in this topic during one of our morning circle discussions. One of the children, Maria, was telling the other children how she had a caterpillar at home that has transformed into a beautiful butterfly. This immediately captured the interest of all the other children and they began excitingly discussing their favourite colour butterflies, what insects did they like, which they are scared of…etc.Then during play time I noticed the children hunting for bugs in the garden. We then discussed as a group whether they would like to begin a project all about insects.The answer was a resounding, yes.

Preparing for the project

■ Each time we begin a new project in the classroom we start fresh. We take down all previous art works so we have a blank slate to work with. We then rotate out the toys and books and select some that are themed to our project. 

We also select outfits for them to add to their role play area. In this case we added some butterfly wings and insect antennas. Children of this age have a particular fondness for dressing up so this is always a popular area in this class room.

 

Another goal is to create points of interest in the classroom. We do this through the creation of mini worlds. The mini world in our classroom consists of lots of toy insects and even some real ones that have been preserved. There are magnifying glasses and other tools so the children can explore, play with and investigate these areas.

The goal is for the classroom to become the third teacher. Each toy, activity and book has a purpose and has been selected and displayed mindfully. Our sensory bins will also reflect our project. Our classroom one is garden themed and filled with mulch from outside, rice and craft paper. Each of these items have different textures and can be explored and played with in a multitude of ways.

It is always interesting to see how  different children interpret different materials. Some children will start filling paper cups with the rice, some will be role playing imaginary games with the bugs in the sensory bins and some just enjoy sticking their hands in and feeling around.

Project entry point

■ Each project will have an entry point. This creates excitement and marks the beginning of a new project for our class. Our insect project got kicked off by the arrival of our very own ant farm. When the children arrived to school on Monday morning they were delighted to find we had adopted some ants. The first thing they suggested was that we build them a more magnificent structure.The children were fascinated to observe the ants burrowing and digging tunnels. This also led to more questions such as, which other insects behave in this manner?, or since we were feeding the ants little slices of apple the children became curious as to what do other insects eat.

How we explored the project?

■ Generally we begin each day in our class by exploring learning stations. Learning stations are designed to invite or provoke the children to use their fine and gross motor skills, work their maths skills, and unleash their creativity.We themed many of our learning stations around our insect project. For example one table invited the children to design their own mini garden, they would have a patch of grass, lots of different dried flowers and little insects. The children would then select what they fancied and design at will.

Another table would have spiders with different numbers on them. The children would add wooden pegs to the spiders and try to correspond them with the correct number. This task keeps to the insect theme and also helps the children to use their maths and counting skills and their gross motor skills.

Each day we would have two big class projects. These would also stay true to our insect theme. For example when we were focusing on bees we had a rotation class system.

We set up four tables with four different bee related points of study. One table was a honey tasting table, we tried different types of honey such as honey from a honey comb and honey comb crisp.

Another table was about the life cycle of bees. The students made their own diagram of each stage of the life cycle and this helped them to learn new vocabulary.

One table showed the students a documentary about bees and all the different jobs they have in their society, worker bee, queen bee…etc. The final table had the children designing their own bees.

Another project we did was we split into groups and each group had to plan and construct their own ant hill.Each group was given lots of recycled materials, such as sticks, egg cartons, bubble wraps and car board tubes. As a group they had to plan their strategy and then construct a free standing ant hill with no help from teachers.

This was to encourage cooperation, design planning, team work and even engineering all wise sticking to the central theme of insects.

The children even took it upon themselves to continue their project in their free time. They would bring magnifying glasses outside during play time and search for insects. They would take them and observe their colours, shapes etc before releasing them back.

Other teachers in the school brought some visitors to our class. Nursery class found a bee and brought it to us to study, KG class were planting and had earth worms for the soil and our class managed to spend some time with them too.

During our project time we also made many beautiful insect themed crafts. We made marching ants using recycled egg cartons and pipe cleaners, we made buzzing bees using yarn and cardboard, and bee hive stamps with bubble wrap.

When we finish a craft we will display it in the classroom for the duration of the project so as to remind the children of what they learned when executing it in the first place.

Benefits of project based learning

■ I enjoy teaching project based learning under a dedicated Reggio inspired environment in House of Knowledge as this method encourages the children to be independent. The children are given the freedom to explore and discover new projects by themselves and with their peers, and this in turn will help to develop their cooperation and teamwork skills.This method empowers the children to make decisions and apply their critical thinking skills. It is a fun and creative process for both the children and the teachers.

Summary

As the main teaching approach at House of Knowledge, we hope you have found it beneficial to get to learn more about our project-based learning in our Reggio inspired environment via following the eye of Teacher Holly.The „Project-based learning in action at HoK!“ series is continuing and we look forward to sharing with you more in near future!

Scan QR Code To Know More About Us

 

X