When I first decided to have projects for the kids, I did it for my younger children. I hoped it would make the club more fun and hold their attention. I really didn’t understand for a while how many skills the project would improve. Obviously, presenting the projects gave them an opportunity to speak in public. It’s cool to see them grow confident here, but there’s more. When mothers began telling me stories about conversations they had with their children as they created the projects, I realized that the projects were teaching the kids to think critically.
Projects generate critical thinking.
For GREAT EXPECTATIONS, the kids interview a character. It’s one thing to read a story and get to know the characters. They become our friends for a while. To interview your favorite character, you have a to think through things about his personality that go beyond the facts in the story. The interview questions are to uncover his motivations. Some of these are shown to us in a novel, and others are not. Critical thinking is exercised in this way.
For HUCKLEBERRY FINN and THE HOBBIT, the kids create original board games. These books have a clearly defined plot, so the structure of the game is easy to lay out. Then the kids build strategies based upon literature techniques found in the book. Critical thinking is exercised here.
Projects build confidence.
For PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the kids cast a movie poster with their friends or famous actors. Creating this project is probably more fun than academic. However, standing before the group to explain why you chose each character and the reason you designed the poster the way you did isn’t that easy for everyone. Public speaking is hard. Every time the kids get up and do this, their confidence grows.
For LES MISERABLES, the kids create multimedia presentations. They are given freedom to interpret the directions according to their personality bent. Some make stop motion videos, others write a script, act it out, film it, and show it at the meeting, while others do a straight forward PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. Each time the kids present their work, they feel the risk of being rejected. Therefore, every time they aren’t rejected, their confidence grows stronger.
What helps your children grow more confident?