Researchers in gifted education at the University of Connecticut have long recognised the importance of hands-on, interest-based learning. They also stress that what works for gifted students works for all students, and statistics have shown this observation to hold true throughout extensive research. Educators and home school learners can explore numerous ideas for primary school projects as they teach concepts to children using a high-interest, learning-by-doing approach founded upon some of the best practices of highly acclaimed educators.
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Create a Classroom Web Site
Joyce Melton Pagés, Ed.D., educator and president of KidBibs, recommends that teachers and students create websites as classroom projects in their primary schools. Such sites enable students to model their teacher as she inserts photos and articles to communicate with their parents. Students use classroom websites as publishing platforms for their writing, artwork and collaborative efforts within small or large groups. They can set up mini-surveys, collect information, write letters to pen pals, gather data from students in other states or countries, and use a wide variety of input as they analyse and synthesise their findings.
Students can design and create projects that require them to think, plan, write, use math, solve problems, collaborate with other schools and evaluate their results, like Ms. Jacoby's class in Arlington, Massachusetts did with their "Oreo Project." Students throughout the country predicted, estimated, solved mathematical problems and carried out designated tasks as they stacked cookies and shared results on their website. Individual students and collaborative teams created original cookies-and-frosting sculptures such as cars and animal shapes. They uploaded photos of their artwork on their website.
Explore Arthurian Legends
Teachers find that designing curriculum units and assigning projects around themes that interest students stimulate their creativity and improve critical thinking skills. "Arthuriana," the scholarly journal of the International Arthurian Society-North American Branch, has designed its "Arthuriana Pedagogy Page" to serve as a resource for educators at all levels who wish to incorporate Arthurian Legends into their curriculum.
Students can construct medieval coats of arms, armour and costumes. They can design projects around fairs, illuminated manuscripts, castles and catapults. Young minds delight in early discovery of Shakespeare and Chaucer and build dioramas.
Share Careers from a Can
Primary schoolchildren love thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. Have students select a career such as fireman, doctor, teacher, astronaut or engineer. Instruct parents to help the child find a coffee can, or similar container with a removable lid. The future garbage truck driver will engage in divergent thinking while placing clues or things associated with his chosen career inside the can. On presentation day, have students pull out three things or clues while class members guess what career the student has selected. Decorate outside of cans with a class slogan such as, "Can we do it? Yes, we can!"
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