Book Project

By Sylvia Chard

March 15 2012 09:53 PM

Here is a description of a book project.  More comment on the importance of engaging children's minds for their learning. New York Times Art section. 



Edutopia Interview

By Sylvia Chard

January 22 2012 01:51 PM

Edutopia interview

Here is a summary of an interview I gave Edutopia a few years back.  It used to be a video but their conversion of this interview into a summary of my answers to their questions works better as a source of information about project work than the earlier video itself.

Winter Holiday Season Project

By Sylvia Chard

November 28 2011 03:23 PM

I am frequently asked about holidays as project topics.  Here are some suggestions I have just made to a teacher who asked about a project on the topic of Christmas with 3 year olds.

I think holiday/anniversary/social convention topics are very difficult for the younger children to appreciate.  They are at an age where the direct consequences of things are what they are most interested in.  They are young scientists.  They are curious.  They like to investigate things, feel them, observe them closely, take them apart, and generally make things happen!
However, I have seen projects done very successfully with topics more loosely related to Christmas.  For example, the topic of "light" is a good one. It is usually darker in the winter and there are decorative lights associated with Christmas, perhaps because of the bright star that led the shepherds to the stable, the light around the halos of the angels, Christmas tree lights, and the other lights often used to decorate streets and houses at Christmas time in celebration.

Children love flashlights, candles, shoes, pencils, etc. that light up! These would all be things which children would be interested in learning more about how these lights work.  These investigations are what make project work powerful.  They offer opportunities for the children to ask questions that can lead to scientific inquiry.

Then of course they have more interest in the lights they will be noticing around them at Christmas time and in what their parents tell them about Christmas traditions, celebrations and what the holiday means for their families.

I hope this helps.  The teacher I wrote to replied with thanks and the comment:  "This was so helpful, the concept of light never occurred to me before in relation to Christmas."

Best wishes to teachers everywhere for the Winter holiday season.

Evaluating Projects

By Sylvia Chard

November 8 2011 03:36 PM

There is a new item in the Online Store at this site.  It is entitled: Evaluating the Quality of Project Work.

This document by Sylvia Chard is designed to help administrators, curriculum directors, and Project Approach coaches to guide teachers as they develop their project work.  Parts of it can also be used to help teachers self assess their own understanding of the potential of project work for student learning.

Project Approach Survey

By Sylvia Chard

April 20 2011 02:01 PM

Dear Project Approach Supporter, Trainer or Teacher,

We are developing some new resources and training materials for teachers who have had experience facilitating project work in their classroom. 

You can help us reach those teachers who are doing project work. We are looking for  teachers who have guided two or more projects in a classroom of children. If you are a teacher who has guided project work and meet this requirement please complete the survey. If you are a trainer or supervisor and you know of teachers who do project work or have participated in training for project work please forward them the information. I will post the results of the survey on the list-serv.  The survey closes April 30.

The survey is anonymous. When you have completed the survey your name will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift certificate.  The drawing is administered directly by the survey company and only one entry is permitted for each computer. The drawing closes April 30.  Feel free to share this link with other teachers you know who have completed two or more projects in their classroom.  All information is greatly appreciated.

Click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.

If you have any questions, email me or call.

Thanks for all you do for children.

Judy Harris Helm, Ed.D.

Best Practices Inc.

Project on Wind in Korea

By Sylvia Chard

January 10 2011 12:05 AM

Interesting article by Jung Sook Ra in the Art in Early Childhood Journal. There are other good things in this journal too.


Rivers, Creeks and Ponds; a Summer Project

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:50 PM

Here is a wonderful site to visit at this time of year to remind us of what is possible with children aged 8 & 9 years.  It was carried out at a Summer Camp in the Maryland, DC area.  The teachers were Vera Wiest and Ms Gonzales.  

Rivers, Creeks and Ponds

Visit the site to read all about the work.



Visit India! See young children there in schools and local commnities

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:49 PM

It is truly a most wonderful opportunity that EduRetreat offers.

Go to: to learn more...

NAEYC 2010 Anaheim, California

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:48 PM

What a wonderful week at this great annual conference!  We met old friends and made new ones.  At the session on the Projet Approach on Wednesday morning, November 2, 12 teachers personally shared their project documentation with a crowd of early childhood educators.  Brief talks by LIlian Katz, yvonne Kogan, Sylvia Chard, and Lilian Katz helped to stimulate the exchange of ideas that ensued during the open mike panel discussion.

If you would like to purchase a $12 copy of the 48 page catalog which has 15 two page summaries of projects and text summaries of the four talks illustrated with photographs, please contact me so that I can send you the .pdf version to download.

Play in the natural world

By Sylvia Chard

January 7 2011 05:29 AM

  This is a blogspot worth a visit to see how children can play in natural surroundings.

If you live in the city it is more challenging to give children frequent experience of the natural environment but seeing what it looks like can inspire teachers everywhere to make the best provision they can for children to learn about nature. 

The Project Approach at NAEYC

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:51 PM

The NAEYC Annual Conference is taking place in Anaheim, California, this year from November 3-6.  On Wednesday, Nov 3, there is a session from 9:00am-12:00pm on the Project Approach.  In the first hour there will be four short talks by speakers Lilian Katz, Judy Helm, Yvonne Kogan, and Sylvia Chard.

In the second hour participants will spend time looking at project documentation and talking with teachers about their work.  15 projects will be on display.

The final hour of the session will feature a panel discussion of questions from the audience by the speakers.  We hope you will take advantage of this session while you are at the conference.  We look forward to meeting you and talking with you about your work.


Frode Svane: Children and Nature

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:54 PM

Frode Svane is a Norwegian architect and designer of experiences for city children.  His focus is on the value of the experience of nature by young children.

You can see pictures of his work at this site.  He has a new exhibition called "Bring Nature Back to City Children". His work is inspiring and in North America particularly I think there would be many opportunities to develop his ideas in the cities and even in small towns everywhere.

Here is what Frode Svane says about his Photo Exhibition "Bring Nature Back to City Children"

1) Part ONE of the exhibition shows how children play in the nature in
contact with all kind of elements, moving themselves in different ways and
create their own frames for role play, constructing huts, shelters and
suitable spaces (unofficial play situations).

2) Part TWO of the exhibition shows how children use their surroundings in
the city, in thinkable and unthinkable ways, within frames which definitively
not are planned for play and the use of children, - more often, also

3) Part THREE shows good and inspiring alternatives in the city, in parks,
school yards and at meeting-places. This might be the most inspirational
part of the exhibition, showing people what is possible to build up of both
nice and inspiring frames for children´s play in the city.

The first two parts shall create a clear consciousness and put focus
on what children in fact are doing, wherever they have good and plenty of
possibilities within natural frames, and what they are doing in spite of the
dangers in the city. This will also show their real needs.

The exhibition focus on the importance of giving nature back to city
children, and to take care of green belts and green areas in the near
surroundings, along their school ways, and to create more wilderness in the
traditional parks.

What the children say

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:47 PM

I have just been asked to feature the child's voice in this web site.  I am looking through some material to present in response to this request and will post it here soon.   Meanwhile, I would be delighted if readers would add their own records of children's comments below on learning through the project approach.

If the children in your class did projects last year maybe you would like to discuss how they remember them and what they would like to see in the way of project work this year.  Please let us know if there are some interesting ideas shared by the children

Getting launched

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:46 PM

Edutopia’s latest newsletter (June 23) offers examples from King Middle School of how to select a topic or  field site for a visit and how to plan a project in six steps.  The planning is designed for middle school age range but would be very suitable with little adaptation to projects at the upper elementary age too.
The “five questions before starting” article offers an example of evaluating the usefulness of a field visit before going ahead with planning.  The same questions could apply to the selection of a project topic.
In the “Six Steps for Planning a Successful Project” article the steps described can be related to planning work for each of the three phases of a project as described in the Project Approach. 
The first step applies to the selection of the topic and the teacher’s preliminary planning in developing a topic web.
“Develop a compelling topic that covers state standards, has an authentic connection to the local community, and provides opportunities for every student to do meaningful, independent research.”
If these criteria are not met then the topic web will not be easily developed to include at least 100 words of categorized and topic focused vocabulary.
Steps 2 and 6  refer to the third phase of the project where the teacher visualizes the sharing of final representations of what the students have learned and the importance of sharing the results of the investigation.
Step 3 refers to the importance of community involvement and the sense on th epart of the students that they are investigating the real world and have important roles to play in doing so.
Steps 4 and 5 are about field work and how this can be done in the most authentic  ways.  It also refers to the the important work of students meaningfully representing what they have learned.

EduRetreat 2010

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:45 PM

Lilian Katz and I recently accompanied a group of early childhood educators on a two week tour in India.  This very interesting cultural experience was organized by Vashima Goyal, the founder of  EduRetreat.  We visited urban and rural schools and ashrams, talked with educators, philosophers and artists, and participated in two conferences.

We were a group of American, Argentinian, British, and Canadian scholars and teachers interested in leearning about the education ofy oung children in India.  We were graciously received, enjoying fantastic hospitality wherever we went. With our various hosts we discussed our mutual interests in education and reflected on similarities and differences in our priorities for young children.

Among the major similarities were a concern for each individual child and the provision of an educational context which honoured all aspects of children's development. The most marked difference for me was Indian concern with the spiritual development of children.  In some cases this was aligned with physical development and the opportunity for children to engage in yoga and meditation.

If you would be interested in such an opportunity to visit India please visit the EduRetreat web site.

Research Relevant to the Project Approach

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:45 PM

It is hard to find research on the Project Approach.  However, it is not so hard to find research on related topics.  Here are examples of pages which review research that could be helpful to graduate students working on research proposals in this area of education.

1.  Research on the Responsive Classroom

The relevance here is that the project approach has many of the features of responsiveness to the learner that are cited in the list of principles guiding teaching that is responsive to students

2.  The Edutopia web site occasionally offers reviews of relevant research such as this page:

While the research may not be on the Project Approach specifically there are many factors shared by the classrooms involved in this research.

If you know of useful reviews of research please leave us a comment after this blog.


Experience, Knowledge, Wondering and asking Questions


April 7 2011 02:44 PM

This blog post by Sylvia Chard

The strategy known as KWL (which was originally designed to help students approach the reading of texts) is of questionable value in the context of a project.  What seems to help teachers most for real world investigations through the Project Approach is EKWQ (which is more like a tongue twister than a mnemonic!).

E is for Experience; K is for Knowledge; W is for Wonder; Q is for Questions.

In the first phase of a project the teacher takes the role of an ethnographer, someone who finds out about the experiences of a group of people and learns by various strategies how that group of people construe those experiences, that is, their knowledge.

Throughout the first week or more of a project, the students reflect on their experiences of the topic and share what they have experienced with their classmates. This sharing is facilitated when the students first reflect on and represent their experiences in some way.  The can tell stories, write, draw pictures, label drawings, make paintings and collages, make clay models, construct with blocks, role play, etc.

They can also research their classmates' experience through interviewing each other and doing surveys to find out about each other's experiences. This research of their classmates involves students in rehearsing interview techniques, taking notes, data collection and representation of the group's collective experience in graphs and charts of various kinds. In these ways the students share and deepen their prior knowledge.

The teacher's role is to support the use of a variety of investigative and representational strategies. S/he also has a special responsibility to encourage the students to reflect on their experiences and explain them.  As students explain their experiences they develop theories about how and why things might be the way they remember them. During the first phase of a project interest can be developed in the topic especially because the students are the experts.  They know what they have experienced and they reflect on what they know.

Throughout this process students wonder about the different experiences and explanations their classmates offer.  The teacher's ethnographic role extends to coordinating the work produced so that all can become aware of what has been learned and can develop a collective baseline understanding. This basic knowledge can be the foundation of the collaborative research process ahead of the students in the second phase of the project.

The wondering is a by-product of the growing interest the students experience in the topic of the project. Out of the wondering comes the desire to question. In these times of immediate, electronically available answers to questions, the question itself becomes increasingly important.

KWL may be a good strategy for the reading of texts, and perhaps also in thematic units, but it is not enough for a project and can even inhibit the development of interest, which is built to last in the early part of a project.  If a mnemonic helps you to remember the process, the following is the one: EKWQ (even if you may have to practice it in the shower!)


This Blog post is written by Sylvia Chard and updates a section on the former web site. Reference will be made to this EKWQ blog post in the Study Guide (download free from the top right part of the home page).

Online Course becomes Study Guide

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:44 PM

Many people have emailed me about the availability of the online course which used to run from this web site.  It is now replaced by the Study Guide which is freely available from this page.  This guide offers ways to learn about the Project Approach by means of self study through the use of a variety of books, articles, and directly accessible online resources. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about this development.

EduRetreat Photographs

By Sylvia Chard

April 7 2011 02:43 PM

You can now see a small selection of the EduRetreat photographs in this album on my Facebook page.