I was working on an assignment for an education class and this one was about doing a project with pre-school students. This is not your typical project where you cut and paste. This is a project where you pick a topic and study it extensively. This style project comes from a certain type of pre-school in Italy in a town called, Reggio Emilia. Only a small number of schools in the US have picked up on it. Anyway, I don't have my own class of students to work with, I only assist in a class, and so I made up how I would do a project with the students.
First, the teacher and students find a topic. I made up that we decided on exploring plants and flowers. Then we find out what the children know and what they don't know. The children ask some questions and think up what the answer might be. Then they go and explore the topic. They go to a garden and study the plants and flowers, and the kids mention about what they notice about it. - They also look at picture books, and I discuss the topic with them. When having a discussion, the topic could lead to other things. For example, in my paper, I wrote about that the children and I were discussing about the diff parts of the plants, and while talking about the roots being a foundation for the plant, I mention about that people also need a good foundation.
- I also give each child a very small pot with soil and seeds, and I help them work on that. Then they give it water, and I put it near the sunlight. Another thing they do is draw pictures of the plants they remember seeing where ever. Or they draw how their own plant is comming along. - They also have a journal, which I help them write, about the journey of their plant and what they have learned. When the plants have fully blossomed, the children examine and compare each others plants, and are intrigued by the differences and similarities.
Now the next thing we do is give each child a turn at presenting his/her plant and what they learned. They share their pictures with the class, and I read the story they wrote in the journals.
Teachers can do this on a smaller scale if they want, and with any topic. The key here is that the children explore, discuss and record.