• Academics
The Project Approach in Little Hearts
Lower School Educational Technologist and Instructional Support Julie Ott
Students show representations of eggs.


The Project Approach in Little Hearts introduces topics using a cross-curricular dynamic where students learn literacy, communications, numeracy, and science all at once. Driven by the children’s interests, they grow self-confidence and pride in their work as they investigate a topic, in breadth and depth, and become experts.

The Egg Project
It all began when the Pre-K class was gifted two praying mantis egg cases early in the spring. After observing them, and creating representational drawings, the class looked at other types of eggs. Teachers followed the students’ interests as more lessons evolved from their wonderings until a student exclaimed, “Maybe EGGS should be our next project.” And thus, the egg-celent idea of the Egg Project was born.  

A project is divided into phases. Phase 1 of a project allows the teacher to find out what experiences and knowledge the students already have about the topic. Students are able to represent their own experiences, share stories with their classmates, and think about questions they have or what else they would like to investigate.  

One student illustrated their story while the teacher transcribed her writing for her. “I know how to draw a baby egg. My sister found one; it was blue. But I couldn’t take one because the mother would be so angry with me. This is the mother. The mother sits on the baby eggs so the baby eggs can get warm. The wings are coming out.” These stories allow the teacher to understand what the collective knowledge of the class is and where to take the project. The teachers thought of a creative way to share the wonderings of this curious group of Pre-K students. The eggs were displayed around the classroom, often next to a display of an experience that answered the question they had. 

During Phase 2, teachers organize experiences that allow students to find the answers to their questions. There are many ways a teacher can create these authentic experiences, but the most enjoyable are field experiences and guest experts. Through these experiences, the teachers find ways to weave in literacy and numeracy skills. The teacher is the facilitator guiding students to discover new ideas and concepts in an authentic way. In the Egg project, the class enjoyed a number of guest experts, including experts in painted wooden eggs, cascarones, chickens, egg cartons, and quail eggs.  

Additionally, the students participated in an innovative experience to determine the strongest and most protective carton for eggs. The students prototyped and conducted experiments to determine this important discovery! These critical thinking skills are hallmarks of the Project Approach. Students start to think about new ideas in a whole new way! The teachers also redesign their centers to align with the project. This allows students to practice skills in reading, writing, and numeracy with the project to support their work.  

“A project is an extended and in-depth investigation of a real-world topic. Children gain deep understanding and knowledge by seeking answers to their questions through rich sensory, firsthand investigations. Projects are usually undertaken by a whole class, divided into small groups. These groups become experts in different aspects of the topic of study.”
(Chard, Kogan, and Castillo, 2017).

A field experience with the Grade 1 classroom was an egg-celent idea! The students in Grade 1 were conducting a project of their own, and had 2 chickens and 6 eggs incubating, waiting to hatch! Pre-K students were able to hold the eggs carefully and use a special tool to candle the egg and see the growth of the chicken inside!  
One final portion of Phase 2, which was simply delicious, was finding all of the ways eggs could be prepared, eaten, and enjoyed! The class created a survey of what ways they enjoyed eggs. The French teacher came in to share how eggs are prepared in France and also included a lesson in language. The students made egg salad and tasted roe!  

Finally, phase 3 of the project brings all of the hard work together. This is a time to share the students’ learning. The culmination is the opportunity to tell the story of the project. It is a time to show the twists and turns the project took as the students investigated more and had new wonderings. The teachers decide when it is time for the project to be over, and with consultation with the students, decides how to share their learning with the larger community.  

The Pre-K hosted a project culmination and invited their parents and members of the school community. The students were the guides for their parents, showing them each display. The proud Pre-K students showed their even prouder parents their 3-D representations, drawings, writing, and all of the hard work they had completed. Not only is this a chance for the students to demonstrate their own hard work, but also the work of their classmates. It is clear to see the pride they show in the discoveries their friends made while working through a particular experiment. They are the experts in their project topic and can now teach others about the topic. This was an EGG-celent project this spring, we congratulate the students on their hard work and their teacher on being fantastic guides through the project phases. We are waiting on our tiptoes wondering what the next Pre-K project will be this fall!