Children's Projects

At Free To Be we strive to design the curriculum based on negotiations between  children and teachers. The “project approach” is implemented, which means engaging in in-depth studies of subjects worth learning more about. Children and teachers research and learn together.

Projects do not constitute the whole curriculum. They are compatible with themes and other activities offered throughout the year.
When a teacher carefully collects, analyzes, interprets and displays evidence of learning it is called “documentation.” Documentation is an integral part of the project approach. Documentation usually includes observations, collections of children’s work, portfolios, self-reflections of the child, photos and narratives or stories of the learning experience. Parents, children, staff and visitors are encouraged to look at the visual displays of learning that can be found throughout the school. 

The Bird Study Project


Photochildren and the teachers became interested in birds.  We were fortunate to be able to take advantage of a wealth of resources in our own backyard.  In order to observe the birds more closely, we transformed our loft into an observatory by moving it in front of a window with a bird feeder mounted on it.

 


PhotoWithin days, many children were able to identify the chickadees from among the many varieties of visiting birds.  Over the course of our bird study children learned to identify a large number of birds, becoming aware of the great variety.

 



PhotoMaterials were provided for the children to make bird feeders to hang in their yards at home.  Children found out that birds were not the only creatures attracted to the feeders!  We graphed the results and learned that squirrels were frequent visitors.

 

 



PhotoDuring the children's conversations, many questions arose:  Where do birds live?  What do they need?  What makes a bird a bird?  We took advantage of the experts in our midst.  When John Searight visited he helped us identify birds, gave us a tour of our own backyard and answered questions.

 

 

 


PhotoAfter doing some research with his mom, Cobi taught the children about the difference between bats and birds one day at small group time.

 

 

 


PhotoThe College's Lab provided new born chicks.  Children recorded their observations as the birds changed daily.

 

 

 

Margaret Simons brought in a full grown hen, which added to the children's investigation of the life cycle of a bird.  The hen laid an egg during her visit.  This provided the children with the opportunity to hold a warm egg, which later that day became one of the ingredients in the chocolate cupcakes we made for snack. 

 

Some of the children demonstrated their knowledge about the life cycle through their play. Large fabric "egg shells" were provided.  Children could build huge nests with hollow blocks and then pretend to hatch out of their eggs.


PhotoWe used our immediate environment, with all its resources as a learning laboratory,
listening as well as watching for bird life.

 

 

 

A Free To Be family picnic dinner and nature walk took place at the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge.  For some families this was the first time they visited this beautiful facility.  Getting parents involved always helps to increase the long lasting impact of the children's investigations.


PhotoAt the end of our Bird Project, we felt we had learned enough to provide our own sanctuary for birds.  The children included food and water, nesting materials, shelter and shade.  They named this area of the yard "the Bird Castle."  It is our hope that the Bird Project helped to instill in the children a deeper, life-long awareness, interest and respect for birds.

 

 

 

Children's Projects - Leaf Project

INTRODUCING THE LEAF PROJECT
Children first expressed their interest in leaves when they made use of the baskets we provided for them. They used them to collect leaves in the backyard and on nature walks in our forest. Also, a letter went home to parents informing them of our study of leaves and requesting they help their child find a leaf at home to bring in.
  Photo

PhotoWe were fortunate to have a variety of trees on our property. Leaves were matched to the different trees in the backyard. Chestnuts were picked; then cooked for snack. Pine cones were collected.   Photo

Sassafras leaves became the most easily recognized leaf. Children called it a “cheetah leaf” because of the brown spots. Everyone knew that a sassafras leaf could have either one, two or three lobes.  

PhotoSETTING UP THE ENVIRONMENT
We knew many opportunities for sorting, classifying, counting and measuring would take place. After collecting leaves by color a display table and book were set up for the children to sort and match again and again.
  Photo

Our learning environment includes the outdoors. Throughout the year children can observe seasonal changes and develop an awareness of the natural world. For the leaf project clipboards and drawing materials were provided outside, along with resource books about leaves.   Photo
 
PhotoThe kitchen was transformed into a studio. Children were able to represent leaves and trees in various media: collage, colored pencils, pencil drawing, water color, print-making.   Photo

PhotoChildren were introduced to equipment and tools. Examples: clipboards for observational drawing, rulers, magnifying glasses, and resource books. There were many opportunities for co-operative interactions between children.   Photo

PhotoOUR SPECIAL TREE – “FRED” 
Children made frequent trips out to the front yard to get to know Fred, our special maple tree. On many occasions we had picnics in the shade of Fred. Children were encouraged to really, really look before drawing a picture of the tree. Real life drawings increase the children’s powers of observation and levels of concentration.
  Photo
Photo

After many visits to Fred, some children created a 3 dimensional model of Fred. Much discussion took place about the color of the tree and the characteristics of the leaves.   Photo

Photo
Photo
NATURE TRAIL
The Elephants worked together on the Free To Be nature trail. They identified special features along the trail and created a field guide. On Autumnfest Day they used the field guide to give tours for family and friends.
  Photo
Photo

INVITING EXPERTS
Margaret Simons, as always, volunteered to help with our project. In addition to answering our questions and bringing in resource books, she donated two trees to Free To Be. She explored the similarities and differences between them with the children. We then planted the trees in our yard. 
  Photo

One of the trees, a small maple, was named Baby Fred by the children. It was just the right size to bring inside so that children could draw a tree. Again, children were expected to really, really look. In their drawings some children represented the roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, the many small leaves, the thin trunk and/or the skinny branches.
 
  Photo

Emery DiGiorgio, a literature professor at the college, shared her love of poetry with the children. Some children made illustrations to accompany their favorite leaf poems.    Photo

Photo
Photo
AUTUMNFEST
The Autumnfest was our culminating activity. Children gave tours of the Nature Trail. The Leaf Museum was open in our screen house. Children performed the Dance of Leaves and their play about Fred, Our Special Tree. Families were invited to stay for apple cider and donuts. 
  Photo
Photo

 

The Baby Project

In anticipation of two pending births within families at Free to Be, Morgan’s and Teacher Brandon’s, we decided to undertake a project on babies. We discovered several children had baby brothers and sisters as well. Almost everyone knew a baby somehow. With this common knowledge as a basis for our study, we began our project …

In September we measured the bellies of our very pregnant mothers. Children interviewed both moms, which further helped us to understand what they were interested in, what they understood and also what they misunderstood. Next, we created a “web” to visually record what the children already knew about the topic. It formed a guide as to how the project might progress.


VISITING BABIES
First we asked the children “Who has a baby at home?” The responses were tallied and graphed. Invitations to visit were then sent to all our families with babies. A questionnaire was prepared in advance to help the children interview the families. Visiting babies provided first-hand experiences, the best opportunities for learning to take place. The visiting siblings also provided big sisters and brothers the chance to be “experts” and share with their schoolmates. Their schoolmates benefited from observing babies up close and personally!

 

BABY VS. TODDLER
Children used their analytical thinking skills as they struggled to decide if the “visiting babies” were actually babies or toddlers?? After much discussion they created a list of characteristics for each. Babies “have no teeth, wear diapers, drink milk, eat baby food, can’t walk, cry, have a crib and can’t talk”. Toddlers “have teeth, might wear diapers or use the potty??, drink a lot of things in a sippy cup, eat other stuff, walk, cry sometimes, might have a crib or a little bed and say words”.

 

BABY SHOWER
The children actively participated in organizing a baby shower for Teacher Brandon and Andrea. They helped with decorating, wrapping gifts, writing cards and baking food.

 

BABY PHOTOS
Children were asked to bring in pictures of when they were babies. The display aroused much curiosity. They were interested in finding their friends’ photos as well as showing off their own. Name recognition was an important part of this activity. Next, the photos were used to create a book, When You Were a Baby. Each child had a page which included a baby picture, a current picture and his/her description of what it was like to be a baby. The end result was a very interesting book!

 

THE MOUSE
We borrowed a pregnant mouse from the Stockton animal lab so the children could make observations of the life cycle first hand. They voted on a name for the mother mouse. “Gerry” was the popular choice. The children predicted how many baby mice would be born and when. After nine days we counted twelve babies! We watched them change as they grew under the care of Gerry. In turn, we had the responsibility of caring for the mother mouse. Children found out about the different needs of mothers and babies.


 

While the mice were visiting, we read and reread If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. This led to the children creating their own version: If You Give the Babies Juice. This book turned into a play, which was performed for parents at the end of the project.

 

ROLE PLAYING
The Big Room was setup as a Nursery and a Pediatrician’s Office to facilitate our study of babies. It was supplied by donations from families. The purpose was to create an environment to explore role playing and care taking. The children had the opportunity to fill out birth certificates, tend to sick babies, dress them, weigh them, etc. Imaginative play is a very important component of learning for preschoolers, both cognitively and socially.
 

BABY FOOD
Children revisited their days of being a baby when we offered baby food in a jar at snack time. Fortunately, we had the resources to make our own organic baby food. Children went out in the front year, picked pears off the tree and then helped process them into baby food.




BABY DAY
At the end of the Baby Project families were invited to visit a display of the learning that took place during the Baby Project, to watch the children perform in two plays about babies and to enjoy refreshments -- our homemade baby food.

After reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, The Hippo Group wrote their own version of this story, If You Give the Babies Juice. There were some twists in the plot, but in the end all the babies arrive safely at home and get to use the potty again!

The Elephant Group performed a play adapted from the book “Smile, Lily!” by Candace Flemming. The actors used various strategies to stop a baby from crying: a rattle, a bottle, a lullaby, etc., but in the end, it was the brother/sister’s smile that brought a smile to the baby’s face. Parts were rotated among the children, allowing them to try out different roles or work as technical support, according to their comfort level.

 

THE PLAYGROUND PROJECT

In the Fall of 2008, months in advance we knew there would be plenty of changes at Free To Be during the Fall Semester. New safety standards by the NJ Department of Community Affairs had started the ball rolling for a playground renovation. We knew the original playground needed to be removed and eventually replaced with all new equipment. Additionally, this project would include improved handicap accessibility, landscaping, new siding and roof, along with a new porch. In other words, we knew we were going to be provided with events, materials, experts and opportunities to engage the children in an in-depth exploration of a “Playground Project”.

Let’s Get To Work
To get children involved with the Playground Project they were invited to bring in construction vehicles from home. Children worked together building and demolishing. Adding hard hats to the block area enhanced the children’s role playing.

   

The Beginning
Construction on the front porch and pathway began in September. The workers set up “forms” to contain the concrete that eventually became the new porch. The children had a bird’s-eye-view from the windows. On many occasions they observed the cement truck and other heavy equipment in operation.

   


 

Bigger and Smaller   
There were many opportunities to visit the heavy equipment parked outside. One day the “Hippos” were talking about bigger and smaller. They were able to compare the size of their bodies with the size of the different parts of the heavy equipment. Children used their math skills of measuring and comparing to come to conclusions about size.

     

Meet the Project Manager
The children interviewed Fred Burke, a Project Manager for our new playground.

  • “When will it be done?” Fred: “In approximately 75 days.”
  • “How do you make steps?” Fred: “They are made out of concrete. The cement truck might come back today.”
  • “Will they look different?” Fred: “Yes, because they will accommodate handicapped people in wheelchairs. It will be a squiggly sidewalk.”
  • “Why aren’t we getting a new playground?” Fred: “We will get a new playground next. It is Part 2 of the project.”
 

Meet the Architect
The project architect, Christina, and her son and assistant, Andres (a Free To Be graduate) visited the children and answered some of their questions at large group time. The children wondered what the stairs will look like, whether there will be swings on the new playground, when the cement truck will be back. Together they examined the architectural renderings and pictures of the new playground equipment.

 

Observational Drawing
On many occasions children grabbed a clipboard and pencil to work on observational drawings of the heavy equipment parked at Free To Be. It was an opportunity to pay attention to detail. Even the youngest child could capture the wheels and lug nuts on paper. In the process their construction vocabulary increased.

 

 

Building a House
A letter went home to families informing them of the Playground Project and asking for suggestions. One family gave us the idea of making building blocks out of paper bags and newspapers. Thanks to all the families who brought in supplies, the children were able to create a large quantity of blocks. They used them to make one of the walls in their house. A door and carpet were added before the children considered the house finished.

 

 

Dump Truck
On many occasions the children have observed heavy equipment working at Free To Be and have used toy trucks in the dirt pile. Children were asked for ideas about how to make a piece of heavy equipment large enough for them to get inside. Once we decided on making a dump truck, they suggested yellow paint, tape, wheels, a dumper, steering wheel, lights, engine, bumper, steps, the sound “beep-beep” and the “thing that dumps the dumper” (hydraulic lift). Most of there ideas were incorporated in the finished product.

     

Why All That Concrete?
The cement mixer and the compactor had worked in our front yard to build our new handicap accessible sidewalk. To help children understand the difference between the two sidewalks we borrowed a wheel chair. For days children were given rides up and down the path during outdoor time. In addition to offering the children fun, we were addressing handicap awareness.

   

Mr. Maxwell’s Office
Everyone had been hearing about Mr. Maxwell, the general contractor, the “boss.” Materials were given to children to encourage role playing: tools, helmets, clipboards, blocks, etc. Children had the opportunity to work on their literacy skills when “Mr. Maxwell” asked the children to sign in on the clipboard if they were attending the construction meeting.

 

Getting Dirty
There was a one-day window-of-opportunity to climb the “mountain” in our backyard. . It was like crossing a continent or climbing Mt. Everest or reaching the moon. The children found it irresistible. Gross motor skills were put to work as they climbed up and rolled down, over and over. When they did reach the top, they were able to view the yard from a different perspective. The next day it was back to ground level.

   

 

 

THE PLAYGROUND PROJECT

Building Materials
As the construction continued, scraps of building materials were collected for the children’s use. They built new structures using real materials: tar paper, vinyl siding, 2x4’s, plywood, roof shingles, concrete, etc. Their construction vocabulary increased daily.

       

They Have to Eat
The children made plans to create a replica of a bulldozer. First, they made a list of all the different parts. During the discussion one child mentioned that the workers would need food. A chart was made of the different types of sandwiches the workers might enjoy. A handful of children surveyed the workers and graphed the results. Meatball sandwiches won! The next day the children prepared the sandwiches and served lunch to the construction team.

   

Club House Construction
The children were busy using scraps of different materials from the playground construction to build their own club house with a patio. After discussing what was needed to continue the next day, they dictated a list:

  • Concrete
  • 1,000 -2x4’s
  • Wire
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Food
  • Boxes
  • Dump Truck
  • 5 workers

This was a lesson in understanding the value of the printed word, a necessary skill for good readers.

   

The Bulldozer
The “Elephants” took on the project of transforming a few cardboard containers into a bulldozer. After several trips to study the bulldozer parked outside, as well as observing it working in the backyard, we compiled a list of crucial parts that would give our creation authenticity. The final product included: a CAT sign. A driver’s seat, windows all around, controls (not a steering wheel), treads (not wheels), and a curbed blade. Finally, some ropes, in the place of levers, did the trick.

     

Visit from “Pop”
Responding to our request for families to share their toolboxes with us at Free To Be, a grandfather brought in his bag of tools. A former construction worker, “Pop” stressed the importance of safety first and explained the purpose of a hard hat, gloves, safety goggles, and construction boots. Next, he demonstrated each of the tools in his tool bag: saws for both wood and metal, wrenches, measuring tape and a rule, a level, a battery-powered drill as well as a hand-drill, tin snips, two kinds of screwdrivers, and last but not least – a hammer.

 

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Finally, the day had come to “cut the ribbon”. Many members of the Stockton community braved the cold weather and helped us celebrate the opening of our new playground. Samples of the children’s learning during the Playground Project were put on display to educate our visitors. They were able to see how educational goals were met when the playground renovation was incorporated into our curriculum.

     

 

The Art Project

Photo    Photo
The Art Project began with an invitation to families to bring in art from home to be displayed at school. The children were exposed to a wide variety of art and learned that artists can be young or old, amateurs or professionals.


 

THE STUDIO
The kitchen was transformed into a studio, an area set aside for art exploration.  Materials were placed on shelves with attention given to order and beauty.  Throughout the semester children were introduced to paint, collage, clay and sculpture.
Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo


 

Photo    Photo
One week the entire wall became an easel.  The arrangement invited children to stand up and move their arms, not just their hands.  Wall painting offered a different perspective than table top painting.


 

With each encounter, the children’s knowledge of clay and their mastery of technical skills increased.
Photo    Photo    Photo


 

Photo    Photo
Plenty of opportunities were offered for children to work on observational drawings.  One day Sharon posed for the children.  Their drawings were different than the typical stick figured drawn by children.  This time they had to pay attention to detail and think about the position or her arms, legs, body and head in order to make their drawings look like Sharon.

 

VISITNG ARTISTS
An invitation went out to artists, inviting them to share their knowledge, skill and passion with the children.

  • Photo    Photo
    Photo
    Eva Baranowski, a scientific and technical illustrator, shared her love of drawing and painting.  The art she brought included drawings of cells under a microscope and machines, along with a painting of the ocean.  Next, the children joined her in our studio to work on observational drawings of a pinecone and a flower.
  • Photo   Photo
    When 11 year old Alexis Tolliver came to share her art, the children found out that you do not have to wait until you are a grownup to feel like an artist.  Alexis brought her sketch pad and pencils and shared her passion for drawing fashion designs with the children.  Afterwards the children joined her in our studio to use colored pencils and to draw their own characters.
  • Photo   Photo
    Danielle Martin brought her sketch pad and colored pencils to share with the children. She showed them her work, which included drawings of flowers. The children then used her collection of colored pencils to draw violets in a terra cotta pot or the forsythia in a vase. Children noticed the differences between the violets and forsythia as they attempted to replicate the flower on paper.
  • Photo   Photo
        Photo
    Stockton art professor and Free To Be dad, Michael McGarvey, taught the children about the art of printing.  Children used scissors to cut shapes from foam pieces; then glued them onto cardboard squares.  Mr. McGarvey demonstrated how to apply ink to the designs using a brayer.  The children put the inked designs face down on paper, laid a heavy board on top and stood on top of it, transferring the design to paper.   When it was peeled off … a beautiful print appeared!
  • Tyler’s Pop visited with the children and shared his passion for painting and drawings.  After talking with them at Large Group time, he joined them in our studio to give them an art lesson.  He demonstrated how he uses a pencil first to sketch his drawing before adding color with paint.  Following his method, the children worked in a more focused manner, giving additional attention to detail and more thought to the colors added.


 

LEARNING ABOUT FAMOUS ARTISTS
Art books and posters were used throughout the project to introduce children to famous artists.  Using the masters for inspiration, the children created their own masterpieces.

     Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo
             
    Photo   Photo   Photo


 

BEAUTIFUL STUFF
Letters went home to families inviting everyone to get involved with collecting “beautiful stuff” for the children to use in the studio to create new art.  One morning, as a group, the children opened their bags and shared their new treasures. Each child had time to discover, collect, sort, arrange, experiment, create, construct and think with the materials.  They had a natural openness to the potential of the found materials.
Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo


 

TRIP TO THE NOYES MUSEUM
Thanks to a grant from the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, a big yellow school bus carried us off to the Noyes Museum for a “get acquainted” visit and tour.  After explaining museum etiquette to the children, a guide led us through the museum, pointing out aspects of the pieces on display, such as the theme of fruit or flowers or reflection.  Later, in the studio, children created their own art using cut fruit to make prints. While working in the studio, the children were able various reasons; nature, emotions, people or other things. An art class on weaving was offered for preschoolers.
Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo


 

GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE
Families who traveled to “Grounds for Sculpture” experienced art in a beautiful outdoor setting on the former State Fair grounds near Trenton. As they followed pathways among trees and along streams, they found surprises around every turn -- two giant bulls, a ballerina dancing in the sun, a deer with antlers like tree branches. The sculpture park exposed children to a variety of kinds of sculpture; abstract, figurative, installation art – created from metal, stone, wood and ceramics. They learned that artists are inspired to make their artwork by various things and for various reasons; nature, emotions, people or other things. An art class on weaving was offered for preschoolers.
Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo
             
Photo   Photo   Photo   Photo


 

CHILDREN’S ART AT THE NOYES MUSEUM (click here to view)
Our semester long project culminated in the children’s art work being exhibited at the Noyes Museum during the month of May.  Each child had one framed piece of art work along with one piece from our Beautiful Stuff collection.  An opening reception was held for families.  By the end of the event our goal had been reached:  The children perceived themselves as artists!
Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo
             
Photo   Photo   Photo   Photo


 

THE CHILDREN’S ART EXHIBIT AT FREE TO BE
After a very successful exhibit at the Noyes Museum, the children were given the chance to revisit their experience.  The book room at Free To Be was transformed into an art gallery.  Starting with an empty wall, each child critiqued his/her collection of art work from the semester and selected one piece to put on display.  Shelves were also provided to display their Beautiful Stuff sculptures.  The children were the tour guides for the adult visitors, sharing their understanding of the art on display.
Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo    Photo


 

The Free To Be Art Book: Spring 2009
During the children's study or art they often referred to The American Art Book for inspiration. The book presents 500 artists in an A to Z format. Each artist is reprsented by a full-page color plate of a significant work, accompanied by an informative and engaging text explaining the art and the artist. Using the same style we created a Free To Be version of this valuable reference work. Enjoy!



The Box Project 

Photo    Photo

GETTING STARTED
It all began when a child brought in the book,
NOT A BOX, by Antoinette Portis. It is a classic story about the magic of cardboard boxes and a child’s imagination. Probably everyone has had the experience of giving a child a present, only to see him/her get more pleasure out of the box. Often a child’s interest in a new toy lasts minutes, but interest in a good box can last a very l-o-n-g time. Who can resist the lure of a box?

Photo    Photo
With the children’s imagination and curiosity steering the project, we were ready to embark on a journey to explore boxes. During the Beginning Phase of the Box Project we read the book several times and discussed the topic with the children, attempting to learn more about their current interest in boxes.
 

HOMEWORK
A letter went home to families informing them about our plan to start a Box Project. To encourage their involvement, families were asked to help their children find a box at home and then find something that would fit inside. Then, working as a team, they were asked to come up with three clues for what was inside, write them down and return them with the box. At circle time each child had a turn to share his/her mystery box and let the other children guess.

A children’s book was created using the photos and clues. Children were frequently seen "reading" the book on their own.

 
EXAMPLES:
Photo    Photo
  1. It has a hook.
  2. It can lift a car.
  3. They can be seen on any road.
Photo    Photo
  1. You can play with it.
  2. You can find things in it.
  3. You can build castles with it.
Photo    Photo
  1. It is soft.
  2. It is brown and green.
  3. It has a tail and two sharp teeth.
 
Another assignment was given after reading the book, When This Box Is Full, by Patricia Lillie. It is a story of a box that gets filled by a child throughout the year, month by month. It ends on the last page with …“then I will share it with you”. A box was sent home with the children and they were invited to find treasures, search for interesting items and collect seasonal objects to put inside. When it returned to Free To Be, it was to be shared.
Photo    Photo
 
DOT’S BOX COLLECTION
   Photo
An invitation went out to friends and families asking if they could enhance our Box Project. Dot Saatkamp replied to our request and visited at group time to share her box collection with us. There were many different kinds of boxes: some were from far away places, some were “delicate”, and some were very tiny. Especially interesting were the music boxes because “inside you can see how it works”. Mrs. Saatkamp explained to the children how the bumps on the wheel pick the tines as it spins, creating the music.
 
TRANSFORMING BOXES
On their own and with the help of several children’s books, the children invested a lot of time and energy into transforming the boxes.
  • Photo    Photo
    Club House: In the beginning a very large box quickly became a club house. The door was cut and shortly after it was obvious that a decision had to be made as to how many children could fit in the club house at one time. They negotiated and decided three was the right number. Afterwards the book, This Is Our House, was read to the children providing them an opportunity to revisit their experience of successfully solving the problem of sharing the space in their box.
         
  • Photo    Photo
    Castle: After reading Christina Katerina and the Box and discussing the possibilities, it was decided to turn one of the boxes into a castle. Over the weeks it saw many changes and additions, making it suitable for a variety of uses. At one point the castle work evolved into making dresses, using cardboard boxes and strips of fabric.
     
         
  • PhotoPony Island: Using two halves of an enormous box, several children decided to create a sanctuary in the shade of a backyard tree for the ponies and themselves. The top held the ponies and the bottom was for the children to relax in.
     
         
  • PhotoCars: There were a few boxes that were just the right size to be transformed into cars. The children were asked what they needed to make the transition. They were able to attach license plates, sit in a seat with a seat belt and turn the steering wheel. (Not everything on their list was possible; for example; the motor!) The tool box was brought out for any “repairs” that were needed.
         
  • Musical instruments: A college student inspired the children to turn the flat, skinny boxes into keyboards. Boxes were painted and cut foam was used for buttons and keys. Drums and guitars soon followed. 
Photo    Photo    Photo
         
  • The Box Studio: The kitchen was transformed into a studio, encouraging children to be creative with the wide variety of boxes that were available.
Photo    Photo    Photo

Materials were supplied for children to make jewelry boxes. This was followed up with supplying materials to make earrings and necklaces for their boxes.

Photo    Photo
         
  • Costumes: Some boxes inspired the children to create costumes. With a little imagination they turned two of them into a robot costume and a grape popsicle costume.
Photo    Photo
         
  • Our Town: The idea of building a town started when the children began creating cars out of small boxes. Next, a discussion was held to gather ideas for destinations for the cars. A map was drawn and more boxes were used to make the buildings.
    Photo
         
  • Rocket Ship: Several children worked together to change a box into a rocket ship. The children’s plan was to include “windows, buttons, seats, a pointy part and a door so we can go in.”
Photo    Photo
         
  • Puppet Theater:  Children dictated the stories for several puppet shows. Using the pirate, parrot, super hero and girl puppets the children created very diverse shows for their audience.
Photo    
         
EXPLORING MATHMATICAL CONCEPTS
  • The children conducted an experiment at group time. A rope was threaded through a hole in a box to make a handle for pulling. A series of objects were placed inside as children took turns attempting to pull it. They explored the concept of weight when they tried a lunch box, a teddy bear, a chair, a child and finally a college student! Then everyone had a turn pulling and being pulled by each other.
Photo    Photo
  • The children enjoyed reading the book, How Many Bugs in a Box?  over and over again, often on their own. A display was set up asking children to estimate, “How many balls in a box?” Children were invited to make a page for a Free To Be version of the book. After a lesson in drawing squares, each child decided how s/he would illustrate the page, choosing a bug to draw and determining how many would fit in the box.
Photo    Photo    Photo
  • Stacking boxes offered opportunities to explore size and seriation. Children were challenged to arrange the boxes in order from small to large and to match the lids to the boxes.
Photo    Photo
  • Elevator: One child suggested a refrigerator box could be turned into an elevator. So a trip to Stockton was organized and several children were able to observe a real elevator and then report back to the other children. They had the opportunity to go up and down in the elevator many times, to look out the window on each floor and to draw observational drawings of what was seen. Upon returning the children decided which buttons needed to be added to the box and what the maximum capacity would be. This provided numerous occasions to work with quantity and numerals as they decided which floor the elevator was going to and whether or not there were too many in the elevator.
Photo    Photo    Photo
         
THE BOX PERFORMANCE
As the interest in boxes winded down, a children’s performance was planned as a culminating activity and as a way to share the learning that had taken place during the Box Project with families and friends.  Samples of work through the project were on display.
Each act in the performance incorporated the use of transformed cardboard boxes:
  • Cardboard puppet stage
  • Tutus made out of cardboard boxes for "The Tutu Dance"
  • Cardboard boxes transformed into keyboards, drums and guitars for “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll”
  • Cardboard scenery for the song “When We Grow Up”. (This song by Michael Jackson and Roberta Flack was included in the original album “Free To Be You and Me”, which inspired our school from its earliest days. Nowadays it can be viewed on youtube!)
Following the performance refreshments were served. Of course, everything came in a box!  (juice boxes, raisins and popcorn)
Photo    Photo    Photo
         
Photo   Photo   Photo