{PBL} Scattering

There have been some seemingly one-off random things going on this week, but you never know where things will lead. My 4yo has been interested in bones for a while now, although I’m not sure I even posted anything about that interest here. Recently she’s developed an interest in coyotes, too, but that’s not necessarily a separate interest. We visited the local NWR visitor’s center a week or two ago to look at the bones they have on display–they have many, out and available to touch, and among them are many skulls.


Coyotes have skulls too, you know. And skeletons. She was delighted to make this connection between her projects. (Yes, she identifies them as such. As a never-schooled preschooler, she signed on to this style of learning with full joy, quickly realizing the gravity the word “project” bestows upon her interests.)

Here she is drawing and then painting a picture of a coyote, using some reference pictures.


This is such authentic work she is doing. She is working hard there, choosing to try to draw a coyote, noticing its colors and how many ears and legs it has, and where they are. She asked me where its nose was, and I showed her the snout and we talked about how the shape of the snout is one of the ways a coyote is distinguished from other dogs, and she worked at getting it right, at the same time understanding that she could make as many paintings as she wanted to try and get the coyote to look the way she wanted to.

This all makes me happy, not because my child is doing this but because I have created the space in which my child knows she can do this. She is not being kept distracted with “age-appropriate” busywork but instead allowed to choose her own work.

Also this week, all three of the kids made light straws.


Someone on Twitter–I can’t remember who, unfortunately–posted a link to an article about diy.org. I checked out the site and sent the link to my 11yo because I thought he might find it interesting. He decided he wanted to make Light Straws, so he bookmarked the video instructions and wrote a supply list. All of us went to Radio Shack and tried to figure out which LEDs were super bright if none of them said super bright, and realized he’d spelled “ohm” incorrectly, but we managed to find everything we needed. I helped the 4yo but he and his brother made their own while we watched the video. Don’t they look super cool? And once they were made, they tinkered with the design, deciding they’d like the switch to work differently.

Later that day, my 4yo looked up at one of our light bulbs and excitedly announced that inside, it had wires that looked like the ones that connected to the LED in her light straw. My 8yo, who is building a pretend machine out of various block-type toys, is explaining how the “wires” should connect. All these scattering activities and interests…they connect in such interesting ways.

This entry was posted in education, elementary & up, preschool & up, project-based learning, science. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to {PBL} Scattering

  1. loripickert says:

    thank you so much for sharing this — love seeing this authentic project work. shared it onward on my fb page.❤

  2. Can you be MY mom, too? You do such cool stuff at your house!

    • amy says:

      Oh, well. In between the cool stuff I routinely lose my, er, sense of serenity. Nobody has made that a topic for project study though so I don’t really blog about it…🙂

  3. Karen says:

    thanks for the tip on DIY.org
    I know another 11 year old who’s going to love this.
    (and his mom and dad too!)

  4. Michelle says:

    Love the scattering. 🙂
    I love hearing how she’s taking off with these things!
    The 5yo is so not into anything here. Very unsettled, that one.
    And the 9yo, we’re having semantics issues. I realized the dog kind of is one of our projects right now now, and she keeps insisting that a dog can’t be a project. I’m gonna need to test out new words.

  5. jacinda says:

    Lovely to hear about your 4 year old getting down to work with the coyote skulls.

  6. Jack is starting to ask a lot of questions and point out different things with bones too lately. I do love watching it unfold. He has been so interested in fire and fire extinguishers for so long now, for this mama at least, I am kind of welcoming this new interest🙂

    I wonder where we could go to see some bones…. I do love your little spatterings🙂

    • amy says:

      It seems to be a common preschooler interest–anything to do with the insides of bodies, bones, muscles, organs. We’ve found some nice books–I particularly like Steve Jenkins’s book Bones: Skeletons and How They Work. (I love his style of illustration.) We had a whole conversation on twitter one day about where to find bones. I’m lucky that we have a free National Wildlife Reserve visitor’s center right in town, and they have the bones out where they can be looked at closely and even touched. But you could try a local university if there’s nothing like that nearby. Other suggestions were a butcher’s shop, contacting a hunter (perhaps through an outreach/education group?), and an online store called The Bone Room (www.boneroom.com), although international shipping laws vary. Or you could save some bones next time you roast a chicken.😉

    • Lori says:

      i agree that it seems to be a common interest with the preschool-age set — our anatomy books at my school were really popular, especially the ones with the lift-off clear-plastic pages that showed skin over organs over bones…

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