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Project Based Learning Activities for K-2

Project based learning is all about authenticity in the classroom. Giving students real-life problems to solve helps learning come to life! Here are some project based learning activities for your K-2 students.

What is Project Based learning?

Project based learning is an educational approach that emphasizes learning through active engagement in real-world projects. These projects promote deep understanding of concepts and encourage students to apply what they have learned to new situations.

Starting project based learning with K-2 students fosters independence and creativity. Years ago, my district invited the Buck Insitute {now called PBL Works} in for a PD session to train us on PBL. Check out their site for more ideas.

Project based learning can seem really overwhelming! But really, it just means allowing students to drive the learning!

Here are some project based learning activities to help you get started in an easy way!

Design a simple machine to sort objects by size.

In this project, students will use the engineering design process to create a simple machine that can sort objects by size. Yay for slipping in the NGSS standards!

First, students identify a problem that they want to solve (e.g., sorting objects by size is difficult and time-consuming). Next, they brainstorm a list of possible solutions. Once they have settled on a solution, they will need to design and build their machine. Finally, they will test their machine to see if it works.

To extend the lesson, groups can share their inventions.

Create a model of the water cycle.

This project will help students understand the water cycle. First, they will need to research the water cycle and how it works. Next, they will create a model of the water cycle using materials such as clay, water, and blue food coloring. Finally, they will present their model to the class.

To add a little fun, make sure to share Dr. Jean’s Water Cycle Song. It’s so catchy they will never forget the important vocabulary!

Build a Structure out of Recycled Materials.

Another beginning engineering task uses recycled materials to build a structure. First, students collect a variety of recycled materials such as paper towel rolls, egg cartons, and cereal boxes. Next, they use these materials to build a structure. The structure can be anything from a simple house to a complex castle. Finally, they will decorate their structure.

This becomes project based learning when students have a problem to solve with their structure. Ask them to design a structure based on a unit of study (like animal habitats) or a problem to solve at school.

This is a great project to slip into your plans around Earth Day.

Create a Class Cookbook.

Food builds community, so why not create a class cookbook as a project based learning activity for K-2 students? First, have students brainstorm the type of recipes they want to include in their cookbooks. Next, each student contributes at least one recipe. Once all of the recipes have been collected, the class will need to decide on a format for the cookbook and design the layout {breaking into appetizers, mains, etc.}. This can be done using digital tools like Google Slides or BookCreator or plain old paper. Finally, have your students share their cookbooks with other students, staff, and of course, their parents and guardians!

A class at my school created a cookbook as Christmas presents for families and it was SO cute! They added a photo of each student next to their recipe, along with a little blurb written by the child about what made the recipe so special.

Open a Classroom Store.

A class store is a project based learning activity that focuses on practical math skills like sorting, counting, and making change. First, students collect a variety of items from around the classroom or school. Next, they sort the items by size, shape, or color. Then, students price the items and create a sign for their store. Finally, they open their store and sell the items to their classmates.

Be sure to have plenty of play money on hand! Want to up the challenge? Have students create the items in their store. Pictures and jewelry are popular classroom store items for project based learning activities in K-2 classrooms.

Project-based learning is a great way to engage K-2 students in active, hands-on learning. By working on projects together, students can learn important social and academic skills. Which project based learning activities will you try with

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