By Harmoni Wallace
Our Police Project – An Intro in Project-Based Learning
It is a busy day in the Pre-K 2 classroom. For one, tickets need to be handed out, fingerprints must be taken, and people need protecting. The Police Project is in full swing. Our Pre-K class is fully engaged in the topic of police as a part of our Project-Based Learning experience. While they are exploring a topic that they themselves chose, they are also solving problems and learning their curriculum in a fun, natural and engaging way. In fact they are learning so naturally that to them it is all play! The children are learning through joyfully and playfully living. How did this all begin?
How Projects Begin
Project-Based Learning begins when the teacher notices an intense and genuine interest that every child can participate in. In our case, we noticed it in the House Area of our classroom.
The House Area was bustling as always, and a few children were playing “police officer”. This was a common sight in Pre-k 2 where 3, 4 and 5 year olds often dressed up as a police officers and pretend to catch a bad guy. However, today was a little bit different. It was not only the regulars that were in on it, but everyone! Even children who would normally rather play “kitchen” or “family” were seen getting in on the fun and arresting their classmates and getting arrested. The teachers noted it and kept an eye on the House Area for the next few days. They noticed that every child, in one form or another, joined in on a “police” scenario. They also noticed that the Police play extended past the House Area. Over the next few days, jails were built in the block area to hold the growing number of criminals that seemed to be lurking in the classroom. Batons were made in the Art Area to support their pretend play. Police cars and jails were constructed out of Legos in the Toy Area. After a while, it was determined that there was enough interest in Police to plan experiences and activities around the topic, and to see if it could become a project.