My kids went to a Reggio Emilia inspired pre-school which followed the Project Approach. This pivotal experience shaped how we do so many things. Certainly how we do art. The school hallways were lined with art made by the students - often framed - all unique. The teachers documented the process of making art, with notes and often a photo of the child making that piece of art.
Rather than the teacher selecting a topic and initiating a project on a specific theme, the project is developed based on interest naturally shown by the children. Children can learn anything from quantitative analysis to geography to physics using their inquiries as the launching point. They learn by learning.
Real life examples:
- A kindergarten class did a Shoe Project; it started after the teacher noticed the children were curious about shoes - not because the teacher wrote a lesson plan with government-inspired objectives on shoes.
- A class of 5-7 year olds in Alberta, Canada did a Tree Project.
More on Reggio Emilia:
- Reflections and Impressions from Reggio Emilia
- Reactions to Visiting Reggio Emilia
- The original school in Reggio Emilia, Italy
More on the Project Approach:
- Doing Projects with Children at Home (Judy Harris Helm)
- Project Approach Resources(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
- The Project Approach (Sylvia Chard PhD)
The Project Approach can be used with children of all ages. It is gaining importance in the homeschooling community. Please check the inspiring Camp Creek blog for info on project-based homeschooling.