Summer offers an ideal time to introduce project-based learning into your program.

An article from Edutopia suggests that incorporating PBL into out-of-school time, such as after school and summer, gives youth new opportunities to become leaders, thinkers and problem-solvers. They have extended time to get more engaged in their communities and design real-world projects that provide rich, authentic learning experiences.

Check out the following examples for ideas on incorporating PBL into your summer learning program:

  • Build the curriculum around PBL projects: At Olander School for Project-Based Learning, the academic year is built around three or more multidisciplinary projects that address school standards while incorporating student interests. This year, students are growing their own food in the Olander garden, educating the community about the importance of pollinators and creating a business to help raise money for the community. Check out this overview of Olander’s current projects for engaging, age-appropriate PBL ideas.
  • Invest in hands-on learning: Second-graders at Melrose Elementary in Los Angeles, CA, learn about insects through project-based learning. Before starting the project, students determine what they want to learn, like the lifecycle of an insect and its different parts. To explore the parts of an insect, students constructed an insect out of clay and pipe cleaners and labeled the parts. Watch this video to hear student feedback plus find additional PBL projects across grade levels.
  • Book a virtual trip: Virtual field trips are the basis for much of the learning in Ms. Page’s fifth-grade class at A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School. Page involves students in the beginning from selecting the destination to deciding what they want to learn throughout the project. They also participate in lessons and exercises to reinforce various learning areas, like figuring out airfare (math) and researching tourist attractions (reading and technology skills). See how Ms. Page used a virtual field trip to New York City as a real-world learning experience for her students.
  • Recreate history: To reinforce information literacy skills, fifth-grade students at Birch Meadow Elementary School in Reading, MA, researched historical figures of the American Revolutionary War and then prepared to "act the part" at a Living Museum. Their challenge was to convince museum go-ers they were actually their assigned person. See guides, materials and other information for the American Revolutionary War Living Museum.

With the summer quickly approaching, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The Buck Institute for Education designed PBL projects by grade and subject matter that can be easily customized and implemented with your students. For other ideas, check out this list of PBL activities from Mrs. O’s House.