Reflections on our Term

To all intents and purposes this has been an incredibly successful term.  We have by some miracle covered both history and science in equal measures using different forms of project based learning for each.

For history the children used the more regular type of project based learning whereby they chose an area of interest to dig deeply into and carried out a project based on that topic.  Topics changed considerably until they finally settled.  L11 was the only one whose choice remained the same throughout.  She produced a wonderful final piece in addition to a really well thought out project:

DSC_0740lill painting

T and C also carried out fairly successful projects, with C11 working hard right to the end and producing a rather wonderful Chaucer newspaper:

All in all I was quite pleased with their history endeavours.  However, it was their science at which they really shone and during which did some of their best work.  The science was primarily led by me, however, in everything I asked the children to go off and design something which demonstrated their understanding.  For example they built a prokaryotic cell:


Their own version of a bacteria cell with organelles.  L built hers from food and C drew hers:

Ribbet collage bac1

I particularly enjoyed their take on fungus.  Here is T’s fungus on Minecraft and C’s fungus in plasticine, tubes and flour:

Ribbet collage 6


Their models of Viruses multiplying were amazing and far too numerous to add to this post (if you are interested or you missed them see here).

The difference between the PBL in history and the PBL in Biology was large.  In history they chose a project and then needed to maintain their interest for a good long time and produce something at the end.  In science we worked through a topic each week.  I taught them all, read aloud to them all and did experiments with them all.  We effectively worked together as a family.  Now you all know how much I love that, right?  However, and this is where the more individual project based learning comes in, each session was concluded by each of the children going off alone to design a way to demonstrate their understanding to me.  This was eye-opening.  The little ones, having learnt the same as the older ones, could demonstrate simply what they had understood (sometimes not much!) whilst the older ones could choose more complicated means of demonstrating their understanding.

This was essentially a project on microbes.  It was in-depth, interesting, requiring a lot of individual learning as well as much group participation, especially in the experiments:


I saw incredible creativity and a level of interest which didn’t waver even once.  I also saw the children building team skills, in particular during the experiments.  Discussions between the children widened their learning, whilst each child brought to the table different strengths.

Whilst I realise what I am about to say may be controversial, I have also enjoyed maintaining a certain amount of control over their learning.  I was able to work closely alongside my children and was able to see clearly which areas needed more work.

When I talked to the children about how they wished to learn this term, all of them voted for doing a project much like we did the microbes with some guided work, some independent work and some group work.  They enjoyed the variety afforded them using this method, instead of it being just them and their project.  It suits me as well.  I really enjoy working alongside my children – it is one of the best things about home schooling.  However, I also like the fact that to keep some of it independent means I have less preparatory work to do.  It seems a good intermediary solution.  It will also enable me to ensure that a lot more writing is done, and not just by the child who loves to write.

As usual we don’t seem to fit into any one box, instead creating one just for us out of a mish mash of other boxes.  And once again I find myself so thankful that home schooling gives us the freedom to find that which suits us best, even if it is likely to change next term….


  1. I’m really pleased for you, Claire, that project-based learning is coming on so well in your family. You seem to have found a perfect way to use it with your children, as a group and at an individual basis for each of them. The dynamics of my family is obviously very different from yours, but it’s still very interesting for me to how the process works for your children. Thanks for sharing your insights! 🙂

  2. I agree with AUM…I love that last picture so much. I think it is great that you can find the mix that best suits your family. I agree that it is so much fun to do the schoolwork along side them. It is one of my greatest joys in life. My kids, however, resist the independent work somewhat, so I don’t think that project-based work is for us. Yes, a great semester, I would say.

    1. Full independent project work is definitely not as successful as partly independent and partly dependent project work. It really is about finding something that works best for your own family and for mine that seems to change each year!

  3. I think ultimately for my family and me we’ll end up liking your science style more. I like having a certain amount of control, but also letting the kids pursue more of what they’re interested in. Of course this is all still theoretical because my kids aren’t quite old enough yet to pull off what you do with yours. Still, it lets me think and dream through it.

    1. I always read your posts and wonder how old your children are. I know the boys are slightly older than your daughter, maybe 8ish/9ish??? Whatever the case, I think you do a great job!

  4. Yes, the last picture is great! Sounds like you had a great term by the success of the projects. I am glad you are finding a fit for your family and I think it is fine to not fit in one box. That would be very uncomfortable! and boring, I would think. Even using a curriculum leaves room for creativity if you set your mind to it. Congratulations to the children on all of their hard work.

    Enjoy your evening, Claire.
    Last day of 100 for now…looking at temps in the 70’s and 80’s and some rain. We had a gullywasher last Saturday – a little over two inches.

    1. I’m glad to hear you say about creativity and curriculum. I’m having a lot of fun buying stuff in but also look at it and ideas just seem to pop into my head…. I guess there’s no helping some people!
      It’s 13 here at the moment (almost 11pm) – It seems weird to think of you just coming out of the hundreds. Rather you than me!

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