The Ball Project

A Project by Three-, Four-, and Five-Year-Old Children at Hillsboro Pre-Kindergarten Program, Coffeen, Illinois

Length of project: 8 weeks
Teachers:  Debbie Noyes

Phase One—Beginning the Project

Balls are very familiar items to preschool children and make a good topic. As a few children began to use balls in the classroom, several misconceptions were noted by the adults in the room. A discussion on whether or not all balls bounce was overheard by the teacher and initiated an investigation of balls. The study of balls was very appropriate because all the children in the class, which included not only a mixed-age group but also children with special needs, had some experience with balls. The children were encouraged to bring a ball from home for the investigation.

Phase Two—Developing the Project

Whole class, small group, and individual investigations began as a result of questions or misconceptions the children had about balls. The children experimented and attempted to solve problems using many different kinds of balls. Resources for this project were very easy to find because all homes and schools have some kind of ball that could be part of our investigation. We collected quite a variety of balls, and the children investigated questions like:
      Do all balls bounce?
     What is inside a ball?
     Will balls float in water?
     Which ball rolls fastest?
     How can we make a ramp for balls to roll down?
     What kind of tracks will different balls make if rolled in paint?
A 4-year-old boy undertook one the most interesting investigations. His question was: Will a playdough ball bounce? His problem-solving skills were amazing to us. The children represented their learning through observational drawings, paintings, conversation, and dictated stories.

Phase Three—Concluding the Project

As a culminating activity the children dictated the story of our Ball Project to match photographs taken during the project. The stories and photographs became a class book about our project. They also helped the teachers design a display board that was put in the main hallway of the school. The children enjoyed sharing their work with parents, teachers, and other children in the school. This project enabled the children to ask questions, make predictions, and test their ideas.

Comments

It was interesting to see how such a simple and common topic developed into a project in which the children used their problem-solving skills efficiently and effectively. This project was also a good example of how project work can be done without taking a "trip" to do field work. It also reinforced the fact that project work can take place with a group of children with a variety of abilities, and that all children can benefit on their own level.

making the ramp                    learning through drawing

the ball rolling down the ramp


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