Posted on June 2, 2020 / ELC
“When you teach a child something, you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself” – Jean Piaget
Project-based learning involves teaching engaging topics that can be child-initiated or teacher-led. The project approach is of immense benefit to children because it encourages them to actively seek knowledge. It encourages children to be independent, motivated and can increase their self-esteem. Katz and Chard (1989) have identified three phases in the life of a project. The first phase is the initial phase during which the teacher assesses the knowledge level of the children in the particular area, then the children and the teacher develop the questions that they would like to investigate. During the developmental phase, the teacher guides the children to gain direct experience in the topic that they are investigating. During the concluding phase the teacher brings a closure to the project and the children share the knowledge they have gained through several creative methods.
Our investigation into plants began as an observation about the weather when we were outdoors.
“Ahhh! There’s a spider in the blocks!” – Lenny
“They must have made a home there because it’s cold now!” – Benji
That finding sparked an impromptu nature hunt and several children noticed that there were no seeds or buds on the trees.
Sprouting Of An Idea
Amidst the discussion on the mat, a child asked “Can a plant grow in autumn?”. We broke down that question when we looked at our current knowledge about plants. What did we know about plants? The children identified parts of a plant as having seeds, a stem or a stalk, pollen, leaves and roots. Looking at what a plant needs to grow, the children named “sun, light, water, rain, a container and dirt/soil” as being essential. We looked at our outdoor yard, it had all these elements so we decided to plant a seed.
As part of our research, we read a book “The Tiny Seed” which inspired questions about what we were about to embark on. We looked at what was needed to plant a seed. We conducted an experiment – each child was given a container that they wrote their name label for and we used cotton wool for dirt/soil. The children made a prediction about what we will happen.
“Leaves will grow!” – Benji
“Flowers” – Kelley
“Peas will grow!” – Hannah
“Roots will grow under!” – Izak
Always up for a challenge, Pre-Prep B decided to run a concurrent experiment. We placed two containers with seeds, one indoors and the other outdoors. We asked the children – “Which seed will grow first?” The children named the indoor seed, Herbert and the outdoor seed, Rosie. Reflecting on their knowledge about plants learnt thus far, most if not all of the children chimed “Rosie!”
We concluded the week and created a watering station, where the children can mist the seeds and they documented the growth of the seeds through their observation journal.
The Roots of The Project
We deepened our understanding about seeds and plants through story, song and rhyme. We read “Planting a rainbow” by Lois Ehlert which followed a child and mother as they planted bulbs, seeds and seedlings, watched them grow into a rainbow of colourful flowers. We collected our understanding about plants as a group when we tried to find a plant that started with each letter of the alphabet e.g. A for Apple, B for Beetroot. We left gaps on the board and the children returned to contribute new plant names throughout the day. We explored seeds further through scientific inquiry as children sorted seeds according to their attributes and characteristics. They sorted, categorised, counted and compared a selection of seeds on a seed recording sheet. We even learnt what each part of a plant’s job was through song.
Harvesting Our Idea
We will be moving our little seedlings to a garden patch in the outdoor yard so we can harvest our little pea shoots and have it in a little salad in a couple weeks and hopefully answer our initial question – “Can a plant grow in autumn?”. We will also find out the results to our concurrent experiment of growing two seeds in different environments. This project will be concluded with the children contributing to making a book which will chronicle Pre Prep B’s learning journey, featuring evidence of all the connections that were made by children from art, mathematics to reading and writing.