Project-based learning can be a fun and authentic way to learn from home. It can also be a great way for teachers to motivate students who are no longer receiving grades by giving them something interesting and relevant to work on. When searching for a project, it is often difficult to sort through all of the options and determine which projects are aligned with grade-level standards. So, the first step is to become familiar with what is expected at each grade level for each subject area in your state.
As a parent, if you are unfamiliar with the standards for your child’s grade level in a particular subject area, you can look up these standards on your state’s Department of Education website. Many states have adopted common core standards. You can use this map to determine whether your state uses common core standards which are often the standards listed on online national project-based learning sites. Virginia has not adopted the common core standards, so to find standards for Virginia, you must look up the Virginia standards of learning. Here is the link to the standards of learning for each subject and grade level on the Virginia Department of Education website (VDOE).
The VDOE also offers “enhanced scope and sequence lesson plans” (ESS) for each subject area and grade level. These are lesson plans designed for a specific standard with printable ready-to-complete activities. When you choose the standard and click the “get lesson plans button”, full lesson plans pop up for the grade level, subject, and particular skill that you selected. Here are the ESS lesson plans for K-12 math, science, and English (reading and writing). These lesson plans are a great starting point to develop basic knowledge and familiarity with the standard when starting a new skill.
When you are ready to select a project, the Buck Institute’s PBL Works site allows you to search projects by subject area, individual topic, grade level, or topic of interest. Once you create a free account, you can choose a project based on your child’s grade level and the subject they wish to study. Each project has a project idea card that describes the project and lists the common core and national subject-specific standards that are addressed. The resources page also has planning materials, rubrics, and articles that may be especially helpful for teachers who are planning a project-based learning unit for their students. Sorting the projects in this way makes it possible to choose a project based on interests and ability level. You could also give kids several projects to choose from on a particular topic.
I would love to hear what project you are doing with your students (teachers) or your children at home (parents). Please share below in the comments any projects that you are working on. Here are some short and longer projects we have worked on at home over the last couple of weeks with my preschooler and 4th grader:
- Create a ten frame with colored masking tape on the floor and practice putting toys in each frame, counting the toys, and matching the counted number with a number (1-10) using a deck of playing cards.
- Do a scavenger hunt.
- To find certain objects in nature outside.
- To find objects that start with a certain letter sound.
- To find examples of polygons and solid shapes.
- To find a certain number of objects.
- Read a self-selected short book or novel and then call a relative on Facetime to retell the book (or chapter) and discuss.
- Design a floorplan of a house with specific requirements for the total square footage and then make a scale model out of legos or cardboard.
- Write cards and letters to friends or relatives and email or mail them.
- Learn about the planets and solar system.
- Then use the Skymap app to look at the night sky and find specific constellations and planets.
- Watch videos and look at images on NASA’s website.
- Draw the planets and show their specific characteristics.
- Research a specific planet.
- Visit a local battlefield park and see where certain battles were fought. Walk through history and read the signs together.
- Then once you are home, write a summary of what you learned and illustrate it with pictures.
- Watch a movie about the time period.
- Read age-appropriate leveled books on the time period.
Nina Parrish, M. Ed.
Co-Owner and Director of Education
Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.
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