Friday, October 28, 2011

C21: Project Based Learning in Pre-K3

The following is an article written for our school newsletter this week by Morah Barbara Kutner, our Pre-K3 teacher, describing how she and her assistant teacher, Ms. Katie Minner, brought Project Based Learning into their dual curriculum 3 year-old classroom as part of our Curriculum 21 initiative:  

The “Project Approach” is an in-depth study of a certain theme, incorporating children’s interests and ideas, which evolve into a concrete learning experience over time. After observing the “Project Approach“ in another school last year and discussing it in our inspirational workshops about “21st Century Learning” at In-Service, Ms Katie and I were very excited to try our first “Project Approach” about apples. The results were overwhelming. The timing was perfect. We were learning all about the customs of Rosh Hashana and of course the apple takes center stage. As Sukkot, the holiday of Harvest, drew near, our learning experiences continued to build upon each other.

One of our goals was to involve parents and strengthen the home-school connection. We sent home a survey asking parents to see which apple products they had in their home. The students were so excited to present their results to the class. We invited parents to share their best apple recipe with us and many came in to bake. The children loved having their parents in the classroom. One parent, who is a teacher, even brought her class with her. They acted as buddies with our kids and helped in the baking.

We made so many things from apples – applesauce, baked apples, apple kugel, and applesauce cake and of course dipped apples into honey! We learned math as we measured flour and sugar and enriched our vocabulary with new words such as recipe and ingredients. We made a Venn diagram comparing applesauce, which we cooked on top of the stove and the baked apples, which were made in the oven. We included many of these recipes in our class cookbook for the housekeeping corner.

Apple tasting and choosing our favorite apple provided the opportunity to do graphing. We examined apples and looked at all the parts. We became artists as we made a still life drawing of an apple and apple prints. We cut open an apple and were surprised to find a star inside, making a perfect holder for the seeds. We planted the seeds and are waiting for our apple tree to grow.

Making our giant paper tree gave us an opportunity to work together and use many skills. We searched on the computer for apple tree pictures. We talked about the parts of the apple tree and labeled them. The students decided how they wanted to decorate our tree.  We gathered real bark to glue on the trunk and some chose to do crayon rubbings to make a rough texture. We used our cutting skills to design our own leaves and sponge painted red apple shapes on the top.

We met together and discussed all of our activities, making charts and diagrams of all of our work. Come see our apple display hanging in the hall and you can catch a glimpse of all the exciting activities that took place as we explored all about apples. Collaborating together, science discovery , strengthening math concepts, expressing creativity in art, language development, parent involvement – all from one little apple. That’s the magic of the “Project Approach!”

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