How to Create Great Projects for Groups and Individuals

I have always been a relaxed homeschooler. Beyond basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, our schooling has consisted of discovery through field trips, adventures, and projects. Projects are a great way to go deep into an interesting subject. Additionally, when a project is completed, a student has something to show off and be proud of. My children have kept their projects for many years and remember the content in the report for just as long.

There are many ways to do projects. I'll share with you the method I've used for over 20 years. It's good guide with a lot of flexibility.

There are four parts to a project:

  1. research

  2. written report

  3. display

  4. oral report

The length and complexity of the project will depend on the abilitiy of the individual children.

It may sound like a lot of work, but the project is meant to be spread over several weeks. I have found that one month is not quite enough time, but if it's stretched over two months, the students start to lose interest. Six weeks tends to be a sweet spot. With that in mind, here is the project outline I use:

Week 1:

  1. Choose a topic.

I encourage the students to choose a topic that goes along with other things you're studying and/or field trips you might have scheduled. You may want to give some guidance here. Too many times I have had students tell me they want to do a report on Minecraft. This might be a good first report to give students report-writing experience, but I would prefer to have students dive into a more academic subject. This happened with our “Burbank Brownies” class. The students voted to make a report on Minecraft. As the teacher, I made the decision to make the report about the runner-up topic, and have them use Minecraft to make the display. The students were excited about this!

  1. What do I know already know about the topic? Have your child write down or tell you what they already know about the topic. This may include their reason for choosing the topic and what they like about it.

  2. What do I want to know about the topic? This step is not imperative, but may help to give perspective. Often, the students do not know what they do not know. You may want to offer some questions of your own, just to get them started.

  3. Chose a display to make. To go along with the written and oral reports, it's good to have something to show. It's a good idea to start on the display early to make sure there's plenty of time to make an impressive display. There are many interesting displays that a child can create. Here are some ideas:

  • board game

  • blog

  • collection

  • craft

  • demonstration

  • diorama

  • display

  • dramatization

  • experiment

  • garden

  • handicraft display

  • illustrated story

  • instruction manual

  • invention

  • labeled diagram

  • lapbook

  • lego model

  • magazine or newspaper

  • map with legend