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Posts tagged ‘project work’

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We meet again! It has been so long since I have posted and since you have visited.  Welcome back!  I will do my part (on writing more) if you do your part on visiting the blog and posting more comments.  Can you help me keep our goal?

We had been in a cooking project which lead us to cooking appliances used in the kitchen mainly the skillet, crock pot, blender and magic bullet.  We have several questions for someone who might be able to share how electricity works in relation to these items.

Today, several children joined to sketch a cord from a crock pot.  One question that has come up several times is whether or not the electricity that powers kitchen appliances is different from those that power our cell phones, lamps, etc.  A child wondered if we sketched, investigated, compared and contrasted the two cords if that would answer our question.  So, we started that journey today.20E074F8-5056-A053-5EAB8CEDC24EE7DE_456762550-15136_062315104631_NA

Above: A child (4.8) sketches the cord.  He counts five lines in the cord and draws five lines on his paper. He then identifies a square and makes it.  He then traces the rest of the cord before completing his work.


Many times, I am asked by students who do practicum hours in my classroom (for those of you who do not know we are a lab school and I have students join the room who are freshman to seniors to experience life in a preschool room.  Depending on the class, the students may observe, teach lesson or facilitate a project.) what is my favorite part about project work.  I felt  like this was  perfect time to share with you my thoughts.  Please feel free to add your own to the comments.

*The individual learning of each child!

-Some children may write a word for the first time.

-During this project, a little guy who is slow to warm has started the project work activity (whether it be my idea or his) every morning for three weeks (and counting!!)!

-Another of my little ones has remembered the origin of the ukulele and shares that with others.

-One of my older ones created his first three dimension representations and dealt with some frustrations along the way appropriately!

*The things that I learn as a teacher!!

– I learn about my own teaching such as how to engage children effectively with a project, what items I need to transform my room, and different ways to document the children’s learning.

-I also am able to see how amazing three, four and five-year olds are and always will be!  I see them grow in their own learning, begin to learn to represent, set goals for themselves, and work together as  a team.

-I learn details about specific items such as I now know all the parts of the ukulele!

*How caring our community  (both classroom and beyond) are to our children!

-We had the opportunity to meet with a local weather man who was more than gracious to our classroom!

-Families have been an outpouring support whether in my classroom or the community in our building.  This is also a wonderful way to get to know others and help teach the children about kindness, caring, and giving.


What’s your favorite part?




We started with making dough! The children spent three days making dough. Our intention was to make dough one day and the children’s learning, enthusiasm, and yes, some dropping of the dough made our decision change! We noticed and reflected that the children learned so many skills in three days. By the end of the three days, some children were telling Christy, the assistant in our room, the ingredients we need, the order to put them in, and the correct measurements. They were using measurement words and several of the pizza vocabulary.

We began with talking about each of the ingredients. The children labeled the items and discussed other recipes where they had seen that type of food before. We also gave the children an opportunity to taste the salt and sugar. We discussed how each of the items tasted and the children had the opportunity to write their names on chart whether they liked the item or did not. The children who needed help writing their names were guided by older children on how to write their names. They then returned to the table and as they waited for the yeast to dissolve in the mixture they discussed what the crust would taste like. One child shared, “It won’t taste like the sugar. I think we only put a little bit in. If you put a lot in then it taste like sugar!”

After creating batches of dough, the children started to take this into their play making play dough pizza’s or preparing dough at the Happy Joe store.


The answer is….





For those of you confused, click here to find the post associated with this answer.


IMG_2782Each year, month, week, and even sometimes daily, I try to challenge myself to do something that is out of my comfort zone or something I wouldn’t normally do.  Sometimes, it is trying something new and learning about it for the first time.  Other times it is something truly uncomfortable for me to try.  I think trying out new things is good even if I do not feel that way as I prepare for it.  Over the last few months, one of my colleagues has been encouraging me to offer more opportunities for the children  to create three-dimensional items on a larger scale and with a variety of materials.

Although, I am not at that goal yet I know that this work and they way I handled it is a stepping stone towards large representations.  On this day, two boys were working with paper towel tubes.  I noticed them using the rolls in block center.  The four rolls were being used to hold a piece of paper and they were using it as a building.  I mentioned it reminded me of a building at St. Ambrose University.  This then turned into a discussion of buildings which have columns.  One child says, “Can we use these to make a Happy Joe’s? But I do not think the one by our school has tower (columns).”

Thus began their creation.  I offered to bring up a picture of the Happy Joe’s.  The two boys spent forty-five minutes creating their Happy Joe’s store.  They used pictures from the store as well as IMG_2789their memory from trips that they have taken there with their families.  They started by discussing what materials they might need.  They brought over string, scissors, a hole puncher, and markers.  They worked on holding up the four paper towel rolls and asked for a box of some kind to help balance the paper towel rolls.  After a small search, the children found a box.  They hole punched the paper towel rolls and added string.  After attempting to connect this to the box, the boys decided they did not need the paper towel rolls as the real building did not have these. The boys began to transform a box into the store.  They started by cutting out doors in the front and the back of the building.  Each boy leading the efforts on their side of the box.  They youngest boy brings over a Happy Joe’s box and copies the words onto a sticky label.  He connects this to the box by the side of his door.  After both doors are cut open and labeled the boys decide one needs to be an emergency door like the one at the restaurant.  He uses a red piece of paper and cuts a piece off and places it in the inside of the door and writes fire on it. Another peer joins them and the boys share what they have done so far. He reminds the boys that they need tables and chairs.  The boy goes into the treasure chest (click here to find out more!) and finds baby food containers.  “If I turn these upside I could make a table.”  He then shows them the piece of fabric he has found.  “See this is the table-cloth.  Only some restaurants have these.”  Another child shares that we need tables and he begins folding business card like pieces of card stock in half.  He then cuts them to create chairs.  The child who created the chairs watches this work and then shares, “Those look like booths when they are not cut.”  He folds one in half and places it on the back wall of the restaurant.  He then reminds friends that Happy Joe’s has to have a kitchen to bake all the pizzas.  A friend finds a small rectangular box and they connect it to the shoe box.  They decide to return to it the next day finishing it off.

IMG_2804The following day, another child offers her opinion reminding the boys that a parking lot is needed for the customers to park.  She marks lines on a piece of paper and finds cars to ensure they will fit in each of the parking spots she has created.  She then tapes her paper to the box.  The children then act out going to a Happy Joe’s store before asking if it can be put up for display.

Repetition is Key!


We believe in repetition.  Not only because the articles and the books support it.  Not only because we see what repetition does with our children. But because we know it works!

Over the course of the last two weeks the children continue to create a Happy Joe’s store.  Each day one more item is added, a child who has not been a part of it joins, or a child uses a vocabulary word they hadn’t before.  On Thursday, the children sat down at the front table to greet Mahi and share with her their evening events.  Two of the children had been to Happy Joe’s the  night before and had lots to share!  One of the children, a veteran to project work, went to her cubby and came back to show us her treasures.  “I asked the waitress a question about the restaurant and then we asked for all this stuff so we can learn more about it!” She shares with Mahi.  The children discussed the items and the trip to Happy Joe’s.  After discussions, one child decided that we had to re-create the store.  The children, without any help from any adults, moved four small tables to create a restaurant setting in family living.  Several three-year old children brought over the Happy Joe’s menus to the table. The nine children in the room at that point were all involved.

As the children sat down to begin to serve pizza. Two of the boys noticed something, “We can’t start this store!  We need an oven like that book.”  One of the boys runs over and brings IMG_2845the book called Pizza Man.  He brings it over to his friends and flips to the picture of the ovens.  “We have to make these to cook the pizza’s!”  He calls over two other children and then begin to look at the picture.  “We need a rectangle block because this oven is a rectangle.”  Another boy agrees but says, “Not the small one.  This one.”  He picks up a long hollow rectangular block. The other boy tells friends, “You need a place where a big and a small pizza will fit.”  Together, they decide to use rectangular unit blocks to create an oven.  They then use model magic to create pizza’s and fill the oven with pizza’s for their friends.  After the pizza’s are cooked, they return to the tables.

As the play starts up again in the family living area, the children use a waitress pad to begin to take orders.  The children ask their customers what pizza they would like and then want to write those words down.  A child rushes to the word wall and notices that we are missing several pizza names.  She asks Mahi to get sentence strips and she dictates all of the words to be added.  Mahi writes these words out and the children add them to the word wall using tape. This play scenario lasted 45 minutes with all nine children.

The beginning of a new project

After culminating the last project, the teachers begin to look for common threads of play or interest in order to begin a next project.  As the teachers observed, we noticed that the children were doing a lot of restaurant play. After a week of play, we heard the children discussing several restaurants in our area that they might want to learn more about.  At the end of this week, a child asked if she could lead our daily large group.

Before she lead group, this child and I discussed what she wanted to talk about.  At group, she told children “Today is a special day.  We get to pick a new project.  If you want to pick Happy Joe’s raise your hand, if you want Jimmy John’s touch your nose.”  This continued with several more restaurants.  The voting continued until the children with the child who was taking the lead brought it down to two choices.  She then shares, “I think we decided it.  We are going to learn about Happy Joe’s!  When we come inside, let’s write down our questions, OK?”

Thus a new project begins!


As a lab school for the University we have students come and go. Each group of students has a different “job” when they are in our classrooms. As they get further into their studies, they begin to teach lessons and try out new materials in the classroom. This semester, we have a group of six girls who are coming in our classroom two days a week. During this time they are learning how to implement project work. For those of you who are new to project work, project work is an in-depth investigation on a topic. This topic can be uncovered for as little as six weeks and as long as months.

This group of girls has already made a web (we call an anticipatory web) of where they think the children will go which is complete with our curriculum objectives and dimensions. They then completed a knowledge web with the children. They also started and will continue to add-on to the children’s question web over the course of the next few weeks. Thus ending Phase One of the project.  We are starting Phase Two of the project which is investigation including hands on learning! Our favorite part!

We have already gathered several resources (Thanks to anyone who has already let us borrow items) but are still in need of the following items:

  • sheet music
  • music stands
  • scripts
  • stage make up
  • pictures of musicals
  • props from a musical
  • tickets/ticket stubs
  • costumes from a musical

The girls brought in their first item this week for the children to investigate which was a light from a real musical!! The children spent time sketching, predicating (and dictating to the students), and experimenting with the light.   They have also been trying to figure out how and what items are needed to change the color of the lighting when needed. We will continue to explore the light over the course of the next few days learning the names of the pieces and buttons and learning more about how it works.






The children have been very interested in Llama Llama books and have been working the last two weeks on creating scenery for the play.  They have asked to read the books at group, on an individual basis, in small group, and they have also been reading the books or looking at it by themselves.  This helped as we decided to create a list of all of the materials that we need to recreate this show.  On this day, we spent time creating a variety of items for the show.  We began by creating a car (this is how Llama gets to school).  Several boys took charge using items in the classroom from our treasure chest (a chest of materials for representation activities) to recreate the car.  Other children began to recreate items for the school including a sign with the word school, napkins (for snack), and shelves for the toys to stack on at the school.  Stay tuned for more of our work!IMG_0629IMG_0632

Creating a Dinner Theatre

This morning as I entered the room, the children were already in full swing of creating a dinner theatre. Our classroom is a long rectangular shape and the block center is across from our family living area. Next to our family living area is a loft. Addison (4.10), Lydia (5.3), and Drake (5.3) had already moved a small table to block center, covered it with a table cloth, added a vase, and four chairs. They moved the couch to face the area where they were going to do their production. As I walked in the children said, “Mahi, we need a stage! We can’t make a dinner theatre without one.” Lydia shares, “I know I’ve seen one out there. No one is using it and we NEED (large emphasis on this word from her) it to continue our work. We can’t learn about theatres without one!” As a teacher, How can you turn this phenomenal moment down? I couldn’t!

A couple boys helped Kara, our assistant, bring the block of wood we dubbed as stage. We rearranged the block area and family living area to make this possible. The children decided the stage needed to be placed near the loft so that they could use the area under the loft as the costume room. Children began assigning roles to other children and/or encouraging them to sign up for specific jobs. In a matter o f minutes, each child who was at school had a role and was preparing for their job. As more friends entered the classroom, they were given a duty and play continued. This play continued for one to two hours depending on the time children arrived at school. The production turned into a musical which was acted out several times so children could take turns with various roles.

Until next time-





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