The Project Approach and Emergent Curriculum


“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn”. Albert Einstein 1879-1955 (German physicist)

What is the Project Approach?

                The Project Approach is about listening to children’s interests and then running with a particular interest in the form of a project for as long as they stay engaged. It is an in-depth study of a particular topic that one or more children undertake (Katz and Chard, 2000, p 2, as in Koster, 2004). Once a theme, idea or question is established, the teacher provides the children with the necessary materials to investigate further, often using open-ended activities that allow the children to observe, sense, explore and experiment. A Project Approach is often associated with an emergent curriculum which is a curriculum that develops from exploring what is ‘socially relevant, intellectually engaging and personally meaningful to children’ (The Knight Hall school staff, 2006), thus using the Project Approach permits these learning goals to be achieved. . This type of learning is often self-initiated, ongoing and transferable to other learning situations.

                I think the teacher’s role is very much a facilitator; we are there to assist, guide and provide opportunities all the while being sensitive and caring without interfering (Early Childhood Education at Thompson Publishing, 2006). The project Approach is very much about process learning; exploring learning during the development of a project more so than creating a finished product. Process learning focuses on information discovered by the learner and is an independent and active learning that will lead to better skills at acquiring knowledge throughout life (Thompson Publishing).

Why use the Project Approach?

                The Project Approach engages children’s intellects by developing their knowledge and skills at their individual levels of understanding. Children become experts and in control of their own learning as they are in charge of finding information and using it in new ways. They can then be encouraged to reflect on and evaluate their personal contribution to a project and thus become accountable for their own learning.

                From a teacher’s perspective, the Project Approach challenges teachers to be creative and devise constructive solutions together with the children, creating a reciprocal learning experience.


From Early Childhood Education at Thomson Publishing, retrieved 20 May 2006,

Koster, JB 2004, ‘Integrating the curriculum’, Growing artists: teaching art to young children,3rd edn, Delmar Thomson Learning, Clifton Park, New York, ch 5, retrieved 20 June 2007,

From The KnightHallSchool, 2005. The KnightHallSchool, retrieved 16 October 2011


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