- Kathleen Copeland-Fish
Projects? What's that?
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
A common question we get asked is “what is projects?” At GAP School Projects combines traditional academic learning with practical life skills. Projects is the dedicated time in our day where we learn new skills and put them into practice. These skills cover a wide range of disciplines such as: fire building, shelter building, gardening, tracking, sewing, beading, weaving, basic art techniques, and so much more! Our week is split into two parts: skills and Maker Day.
On our skills days, typically Monday and Tuesday, we explore and learn more about the specific skill of the week. For example, during the month of October we:
learned many different fire building techniques
conducted experiments and recorded data on which tinder was best to use
learned how to find dry wood after a rainstorm
practiced our fire techniques
learned and practiced fire safety
made fire starters from a variety of materials
began gathering tinder, kindling, and wood for the daily fires we would enjoy later in the winter.
Outdoor skills aren’t the only knowledge we gain during Projects! In the month of December, we learned about paper mâché and mod podge, then using those skills we created lanterns for our Community Day. We also practice traditional handcraft skills, such as sewing, creating baskets out of pine needles, and making salves and lotions using plants we harvested around the property. By introducing the learners to a wide range of skills they are able to better connect to what interests them.
On Maker Days, we put the skills we learned into practice. Learners can bring their own ideas, peruse our library of crafting books, or consult with their fellow learners on what they want to build or make. Once learners have an idea of what they would like to create, they begin writing a Project Proposal. In the proposal learners include a title, reason for making, list of materials, labeled drawing, and list of tools they will need. Learner project ideas range from paracord bracelets and dog collars to fizzing bath bombs, animal habitats to dress making, building a full-size balance beam to battery powered lanterns, and even a boat!
Once a Project Proposal is approved, Learners begin gathering their supplies and tools needed to complete their project. Learners may go to the Bat Cave (our equivalent a craft or home improvement store) and “buy” supplies using their Bat Cave money, or they may sustainably harvest materials from the property. After the supplies and tools are in order, students begin making! This is where the fun really begins. During Maker Day, learners are not only realizing their creative abilities but also practicing life skills such as active listening, giving and receiving critical feedback, and most importantly how to persevere when things get hard.
So, “what is projects?” It’s this amazing time when learners get to develop new skills and be creative. It’s a little different every day but always helps Learners to realize they can do hard things, when they struggle they grow, and that they get stronger every day.