Trucks, and Buildings, and Project-Based Learning – Oh My!

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At United Inner City Services (UICS), our educational goals are to enhance a child’s intellectual, social, physical and emotional skills and prepare them for entering kindergarten. These skills are vital to a child’s development and growth… and also offer incredible interactive opportunities for learning about the world around them!

One way UICS teachers encourage our students to ask questions and learn about the world around them is through project-based learning. 

Project-based learning is a student-centered classroom approach that believes students acquire a deeper knowledge through exploration of real-world challenges and problems. For pre-K students, this method encourages them to identify items in their environment and foster an interest in learning more about that particular item and topics related to it. This active learning model is more effective for learning retention and student engagement.

Benefits of project-based learning in early childhood include approach flexibility, encouragement of student engagement, and increased student confidence and motivation to learn. The approach uplifts each individual student’s strengths in the classroom environment in a fun and positive way

A few ways that students participate in project-based learning are by engaging in play that involves everyday activities or items. 

How many of us growing up were curious about all the tools at the doctor’s office during check-ups and wanted to learn more about what they did? Did you have a toy stethoscope of your own that you used on your dolls or stuffed animals? Did you ever diagnose your teddy bear or other toy friend with an injury or illness? That’s a form of project-based learning!

“One example of project learning is a truck study one of our classrooms completed. From their classroom window and the playground, they saw semi-trucks, garbage trucks, and other vehicles passing by on the street and were interested in the sounds and movement.”, says UICS-St. Mark Center Training and Curriculum Manager Merrill Hunt.

Students learned about the different types of trucks passing by UICS-St. Mark Center on a daily basis. From each truck’s purpose  to the sounds they make, the students were eager to discover more and cure their curiosity. They learned by playing with toy trucks, reading books about trucks, watching videos with their classmates about different types of trucks, and through other truck-related experiences!

Another example of project-based learning took place when students in the Yellow Room at UICS-St. Mark Center began noticing the downtown Kansas City skyline from their classroom window. Students were asking questions about what the buildings they saw were, who was inside, and why they were there.

Teachers took advantage of this piqued curiosity to begin discussing the city landscape and learn about different buildings. Students received the opportunity to incorporate this project-based learning experience and our arts-focused curriculum to sit and sketch their own renditions of the city skyline!

By giving students the opportunity to explore their environment in-depth, project-based learning encourages young children’s natural curiosity, and helps to foster a lifelong love of learning about the world around them. 

UICS-St. Mark Center Early Learning and Inclusion Director, Raina Davis, put it best: “Outside is as much of a classroom as inside.”

We are grateful to our incredible staff of educators who make these experiences possible for our little learners.