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Project Based Learning Made Easy

Project Based Learning (or PBL as it is commonly referred) is an amazing learning opportunity for students.  Students use information they already know, research skills and creative thinking skills to solve a problem or complete a task.  It’s real-world learning brought into the school setting.  But somewhere along the way, project based learning has gotten a bad rap for being hard to set-up, expensive and time intensive for the teacher.  While some projects might be, I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here’s your guide to project based learning made easy.

These low prep Project Based Learning activities provide students with all the amazing PBL learning benefits without being time intensive or expensive for the teacher.  Teachers only need to review the project activities and copy the pages the students will need.  The same prep needed for basic worksheets with so much more educational impact.  And, students can complete each of these products with basic school supplies and brain power.  It’s project based learning made easy (for the teacher that is).

Projects for the Entire Year

You can now fill your lesson plans all year long with these amazing learning projects.  With options that are perfect for different seasons and holidays, and projects that can be completed any time of the year, you will always have a project that your students will love.  These projects are perfect for cross-curricular learning, and can be completed as a whole class lesson or as part of independent stations.  Many teachers also use these projects as early-finisher activities.

Projects for Any Time

1. Plan a Road Trip

Combine geography and math with reading and writing and what do you get?  A fun project based learning activity where students will plan their very own road trip from start to finish.  There’s more than just mapping a route to this activity.  Students will create packing lists, calculate gas costs and even do some creative thinking and prepare some road trip selfies for their virtual vacation.  You can find out more about the road trip project in this article.

plan a road trip pbl project for middle school and elementary school

2. Start a Restaurant

Starting a restaurant is more than just cooking food and serving it to others.  There’s a lot of planning and organizing that must happen, marketing and design, and learning about customer service.  Give your students a glimpse into all these topics, and more, as they start their very own restaurant.

create a restaurant project based learning activty

3.  Create a Planet

This project is the perfect addition to any science unit on the solar system or a follow-up project to a science fiction literature study.  Kids love space and this space themed project is a favorite!  Here students will apply what they have learned about space and planets in order to create their own planet!

space solar system planet project based learning activity

This unit will have your students using the science vocabulary they have learned in their writing as they explain their new planetary creation.

4. Visit a National Park

There are so many amazing National Parks in the United States. Engage students with these diverse places and let them plan their own visit to the national park of their choice.  Students will be using skills from math, social studies, reading and writing as they complete this project based learning activity.  There are have even been students that have used this project to help their family plan a real life trip to a national park.  Want the nitty gritty details on this project?  Read this post that is all about the National Park PBL.

Starting Project Based Learning a How To Guide

5.  Design a Water Park

Looking for a STEM based project?  This is it!  Your students will love this project based learning activity where they get to design their own water park!

design a waterpark PBL unit for elemenatry

Students will create a map of their waterpark, design a brochure to bring in visitors, plan the concession stand menu and much, much more!  It’s amazing to watch the creativity and ideas of our students shine through in a project like this.  Even reluctant writers are excited to write as part of these fun and engaging projects.

6. Start a Smoothie Stand

The smoothie business has grown exponentially in the last few years.  Smoothies have become a favorite treat or meal for many people.  In this project based learning unit students will plan and organize a smoothie stand.  From researching and choosing a location, to preparing smoothie marketing your students will be practicing important math and writing concepts throughout this fun project.

create a smoothie stand project based learning activity for elementary

Holiday and Seasonal Projects

7. Design a Haunted House

This project is perfect for October or the week or two leading up to Halloween.  Instead of fighting against students as their excitement for the holiday builds and their minds get distracted – use it to work on important math, reading and writing skills.  Find out exactly how to implement this project in your classroom in this blog post dedicated to this fun and engaging Haunted House project! Take a look at these skills in action as students design a haunted house

        haunted house PBL geometry connectiondesign a haunted house project based learning activity

8. Plan a Thanksgiving Parade

One of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving morning is watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade on TV while I am working in the kitchen.  It’s been a favorite since I was a little girl and it inspired this project based learning activity.  Students will plan a parade complete with the parade route, designing a float, persuading people to come to the parade and more!  Get a step by step plan for this project here.  While there are some aspects specific to the Thanksgiving inspiration, many of the activities could work for any parade which allows you to use this project at any time during the year.

Thanksgiving Parade Project Based Learning Activity

9. Design a Gingerbread House

Once you’ve made it through Halloween and Thanksgiving it’s time to gear up for the Christmas and winter holidays.  These may be the hardest when it comes to keeping students engaged and interested in school. This project (and the next one) are perfect for this time of year.

Your students will love designing a gingerbread house.  They will think of it as fun but you will know that they are putting key math, reading and writing skills to practice.  It’s a win-win for everyone!  In this post I went into the details of how to introduce and complete the Design a Gingerbread House project in your classroom.

Design a Gingerbread House project based learning unit

10.  Start a Hot Cocoa Stand

This is the second project based learning unit that is perfect for the cold winter months.  Whether you do it in the days leading up to winter break, or as a way to ease back into class after the holidays, your students will love it.  There are 10 Fun Activities included in this Hot Cocoa Stand project.  You can pick and choose which to do, or do them all.  It’s a great way to work on important language arts and math skills.

Students will love designing their hot cocoa stand, choosing their recipes and even writing with the purpose of persuading people to come purchase some hot cocoa.  Exposing our students and helping them develop these real world life skills is bonus learning!

Create a Hot Cocoa stand with project based learning

11. It’s a Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest

When February arrives it’s time to engage your students with a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s Day Cupcake Contest.  Your students will love creating their own cupcake recipes and designs, using math to expand the recipe and even creating a cupcake display (virtually of course).  Once again, math and language arts skills are at the core of this holiday project based learning activity.  It’s amazing to see students put their learning to practice in these engaging projects.

Valentine's Day Project Based Learning Unit with a cupcake theme

12. St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Village Project

St. Patrick’s Day might not cause as much of a distraction in the classroom as some other holidays, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good day or time for some holiday learning.  What does everyone love most about this holiday?  Why the leprechauns, of course.  So challenge your students to create the perfect leprechaun village for our lucky little Irish friends.  Students will put their math learning to good use as they design and map out the village.  They will also work on important descriptive writing skills as part of this project.

St. Patrick's Day Project Based Learning will have students creating a leprechaun village

13. Plan an Easter Egg Hunt

This last project based learning activity is the perfect one for March and April.  Students will work through all the steps of planning a fun and organized Easter Egg Hunt.  They will get practice with key skills like research, writing, reading and math.  If working in groups they will also work on vital communication skills and team work.  And while you are focused on the important skills and concepts, the students will be focused on the fun!

Easter Project Based Learning Activity with a focus on language arts and math

A Project Based Learning Bundle

All of these fun and engaging project based learning activities can be found in the Project Based Learning Bundle.  And . . . here’s a little secret.  When you purchase bundles you always save money too!

Project Based Learning Bundle

Here’s some ideas on how to use these amazing learning projects in your classroom:

  • Do one project each month.  Schedule the holiday and seasonal projects and then fill in the remaining months with the projects that work any time of the year.
  • Make Fridays your project based learning day (or part of the day)
  • Create an Early Finisher area in your classroom using the projects
  • Use a project as a culminating activity for a unit – like the solar system or geography of the United States

If you find yourself needing the projects in a digital format, you can find those too!  The MEGA bundle gives you all of the projects in print and digital formats.

Pin it Now to Save it for Later

Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back for more project based learning ideas.easy project based learning ideas to save teachers time and money

Amy Hughes

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  • Bruce A Austin April 7, 2021 at 9:35 am

    Excellent. Totally excellent

    • Shelly Rees June 7, 2021 at 9:28 pm

      Thank you!

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    I'm Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning. First and foremost, I'm a mom of 4 boys, wife of 25 years to Aric, and Wyoming girl at heart. I love being creative, making resources for teachers, baking cookies, Diet Coke, teaching, public speaking, and spreading kindness wherever I can. After teaching in the upper elementary grades for over 23 years, I retired early and focused on creating and helping teachers around the world with my teaching ideas and resources. I also serve as a mentor to hundreds of teacherpreneurs and help them get focused on growing their own successful businesses. With 100% honesty, I LOVE my life! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. Read More

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