Phase 1: Starting Phase
By this point you have already chosen an interest topic. It is best if this topic is able to be seen and explored by your child.
Birds are a great topic (so funny that I chose this because I am deathly afraid!), because you can go out your backyard to watch the birds. You can go to the store to purchase bird feeders. You may even be able to go to a pet store to see domestic birds.
Dinosaurs would not make the best project topic. Children are not able to see real dinosaurs. That does not mean that you cannot do anything with dinosaurs during your early childhood program. You can include dinosaurs in your center areas.
Once you have your topic, you will want to find out what the children already know about it. A topic web is the perfect way to record children’s ideas. Put your topic in the middle, and list all the categories shooting out from it.
I have gotten so used to making topic webs, that creating the categories sometimes comes naturally to me. It may be easier to grab a large pad of sticky notes.
Every idea that your child comes up with, record on on note. Pretty soon you will have a bunch scattered around.
Then you and your child can create categories of similar ideas. Here I combined like items for:
* How they move
*What do they make
* Kinds: Which ones go in the water, which ones go on land
* Body parts
* Where do they live
Then you can transcribe these onto a topic web.
Another tip: I find it helpful to also do an adult topic web. Are there things that I can think of that may be useful in the future of the project?
Make a list of questions that your child has about the topic. This can be done at a separate time. Or you hey may think of questions as they are completing the topic web. You will revisit this list often. I find it helpful to have it visible during project work.
Children’s Personal Stories
You can encourage children to recall their personal experiences with the topic. Throughout project work, encourage children to represent their ideas through drawings, writing, dramatizations, or constructions.
You can even share your own personal stories about the topic.
At the end of this phase, you will start planning how children can investigate their questions. Is there are place you can visit in orders to see the topic first hand? This is called field work.
Is there an expert the children can talk with?
You can also use secondary resources. These would be books, posters, pamphlets, videos, or websites.