Project-Based Learning is a style of pedagogy (teacher lingo for ‘teaching and learning’) that teaches kids about real world problems and situations. Doing these sorts of projects will not only help you bond with your kids, it'll also teach them valuable lessons that are relevant in today’s society (while having a ton of fun in the process).
If you don’t know what to do with your kid this weekend, check out these 10 ideas!
10 Grow a Vegetable Garden
Looking to get some sunshine (and maybe some dirt under your fingernails) while teaching your child about food security and healthy eating? Grab a shovel and get at it! This is a good project for kids of almost any age. Have fun taking them to pick out seeds together while discussing how your local climate might affect plant growth. Children will feel excited about eating the veggies they’ve grown – a huge plus for parents of picky tots! If you live in the city and don’t have a backyard, you can experiment with balcony gardening. Lots of edible plants, from herbs to tomatoes, can be easily grown on a balcony.
9 Do a Home Reno
Do you have a home renovation coming up? Involve your kids! It may seem stressful at first (should I really be letting my 7-year-old use the power drill?) but with the right safety precautions, training, and supervision, there will be no need to pull your hair out. Bring them along to the hardware store and let them help out where ever they can. If a task is too dangerous or complicated for them to participate in, let them observe! Kids will learn valuable construction skills and can show off their efforts to family and friends – they will surely be proud of their work!
8 Organize a Fundraiser for a Worthy cause
In this day and age there are so many new and easy ways to fundraise – take advantage of this and raise money to support a cause that you and your family care about! You could fundraise for an organization (such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation or the SPCA), for a family (perhaps there is a family in your community who has suffered a crisis lately and needs financial aid), or a community space (such as a park or community centre). Brainstorm some ways to fundraise with your kids, have them put up posters to advertise their fundraiser, and invite their friends (and parents) to participate! Kids will learn the value of charity and the skills associated with event planning.
7 Create an Emergency Home Evacuation Plan and Emergency Kit
Is your family prepared for an emergency? Put together an emergency preparedness kit with your kids! Have them conduct research online and make a list of items they should include in the kit. You can then take them to the store to get supplies. This need not be an expensive project. Many of the items you will need are very cheap, but invaluable in an emergency! You can also have them draw out a map of the house, marking all of the exits and a family meeting place in case of a fire or earthquake.
6 Make a tutorial video
Perhaps your kid is the next Michelangelo or Gordon Ramsay… or maybe they’re really good at mechanics! Either way, make a YouTube tutorial! Many kids these days are ‘going viral’ with their unique skills by making online videos. In addition to bragging rights, your kids will gain valuable film/audio-editing skills while also learning about cyber-safety and online etiquette. If you are uncomfortable about posting a video of your child online, fear not! Your child could bring their film in for show and tell at school, or you could share the video with friends and family via email if you wish. Another alternative is not including your child’s face in the video. You can help them to create a white board animation style video with voice-overs if this is a concern for you.
5 ‘Cater’ a Family Dinner
Does your kid love to cook? Have them ‘cater’ a family dinner! Sit down with your child one week in advance to choose a menu. This can include 1-3 courses depending on their abilities. Discuss a budget and how many people will be present for the dinner (perhaps they would like to invite their grandparents). Once they have chosen a menu, budget, and number of guests, your child can make a grocery list. Take them to the store (or even better, a local market) to pick out the ingredients for their meal (making sure they stay on budget). When it's time to cook, your child may choose to make the dinner all by themselves or to enlist you (or a sibling) as a sous-chef! Just make sure to talk to your child about food, knife, and heat safety in the kitchen so that their big night as a master chef doesn’t turn into a night at the hospital.
4 Research a problem and write to local government about it
Teach your kids about government structure and instigating change. Have them write to local government about an issue facing your community. Maybe they would like to see more green spaces around town or would like the city to undertake a composting initiative. This is a great way to teach kids that their voices matter and, even though they are young, they can make changes in their communities.
3 Create a budget/savings plan
Financial literacy is an important skill your kids can start learning at any age! Is there a way that your kids regularly earn money (from a paper route, allowance etc.)? Teach them to budget their earnings! It’s important that you allow your child to choose the percentage of their earnings that they would like to save, spend or share, but encourage them to stick to their budget once they decide on one. Not only will this promote fiscal responsibility, your child will learn valuable math skills (percentages, adding, and subtracting) that will help them to excel in school.
2 Do a real-world science project
Do you have a scientist on your hands? There is a plethora of at-home science projects you can do with your child – the best of which apply directly to real world problems! Is there a particular subject that your child is interested in learning more about (such as climate change, waste reduction, or clean energy)? Have them do some research about the issue online. After doing so, they can create a scientific experiment to explore the issue further. There are some great examples of science projects online that they can use as a baseline, but encourage them to be creative when designing their experiment.
1 Foster an animal through a rescue organization
Many animal shelters have fostering programs in place for a variety of reasons. Some shelter animals are sick or very young and require extra attention, some need to develop social skills before they’re adopted, and some just simply need to get out of their kennel! Fostering an animal helps take a burden off of shelters who are often pressed for funding and space. If your child is an animal lover but your family is not ready to adopt a pet, you and your child can foster animals in need to help them get ready for adoption. Kids will learn the responsibilities attached to having a pet and older kids can help with administering medication, washing wounds, or bottle feeding (for young kittens) – the shelter will usually pay for any veterinary costs and provide you with any food and equipment you may need.