I have been reading lots about project based homeschooling on the Camp Creek Blog, through the forums online, and in this fabulous book.
The idea is to help your kids learn to plan and carry out longer term projects on topics of their own choosing. I have always tried to set things up around here so that the kids could have access to stuff and to me to do projects, but this concept takes it a bit further. The author recommends purposefully setting aside time for project work instead of letting it be just whenever the mood strikes. The idea is that by making yourself available at set times, your child will come to see that you value their work and are there to support them. You take notes and help them remember what they want to accomplish and get needed materials, all while giving them full reign over design choices and the ability to make mistakes and change things, etc, They do not have to work on the project during the set time, but you need to be available and encourage them.
While we are not yet fully using the author’s system, we definitely have a start. My daughter gave away one of the shelf units in her room to make space for a dollhouse she wanted to make.
Originally she planned on 3 levels with stairs, doors, and 2 bathrooms, etc.
I helped her find boxes and I cut doors where she wanted. The rest was all her for awhile.
After struggling with the design she had on paper (and yes, there were frustrated tears), she calmed down and decided the stairs were unnecessary and so was the attic. The rooftop would become a hangout with a pool instead.
After completing the 3 lower rooms, she decided that she really didn’t need another bathroom upstairs. She looked at what she had and decided that even the lower floor bathroom could be cut in half to make an art studio with space for an easel and instruments. She also came up with a way to divide the boxes into upstairs/ downstairs halves without using her original hot glue plan. I helped by cutting slits and sliding a length if cardboard across the span of the rooms.
At this point, she started thinking about the walls and floors. We made a plan to pick up scrapbook paper for her to use. She also decided to use some blank full size mailing label sheets to design stickers for the walls.
She created several windows, light fixtures, and other accessories and dug out some additional stickers she had from an old doll house kit.
We made a trip to the craft store and picked out papers.
She chose a bunch of patterns for the rooms. She then moved on to another part of her project. She decided there were too many bedrooms and that the family needed pet stuff. She started construction on kitty furniture and toys and dug up some toy kitties to join the family.
At this point she paused work on the house to branch off, making other stickers and doll clothing and belongings.