Child-Led Research Projects with a Second Plane Child

When Lila’s school closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I was pretty excited to get to have Lila joining us in our homeschool room each day. She is firmly in the second plane of development now, so I knew that our old routine would no longer work. She doesn’t need me to put together the perfect work trays for her and guide her with a different lesson each day. In the second plane of development, she is ready to create her own course of study. She is highly motivated by her interests, so my job now is to provide materials for her to further her exploration of those interests in whatever way she devises.

With her leap into the second plane, Lila gained a hearty appreciation of non-fiction. Her favorite types of non-fiction currently include biographies and Magic Tree House Research Guides. Knowing how much she loved these, she received several different research guides for her birthday, along with a new research notebook that she asked her little sister to get her. Lila usually brings along that research notebook when we visit museums to record facts that interest her in the exhibits — but we are no longer able to visit museums due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

When we discovered that Lila would have to be staying home from school for a while, I began by asking what she would like to learn about. She thought for a bit, then said she wanted to research penguins using her Magic Tree House Penguins & Antarctica Research Guide. Luckily, I happened to have another book about penguins that I had checked out of the library just before they also closed, so we had two solid non-fiction resources for her research. I suggested that she bring them up to the homeschool room while Nora does homeschool preschool, and we took it from there.

Before she began her research, Lila and I came up with a few questions we wanted to have answered about penguins. Lila wrote those questions in her research notebook, then began taking notes from her reading.

After she had answered all of her questions and added a few interesting facts, she decided she really wanted to draw a picture of a Rockhopper penguin. She added that to her research notebook.

Once she had finished, I asked her what she wanted to do with all of the information she had gathered. She looked around the classroom and then decided she wanted to make a poster. So we found a big roll of paper and decided what facts to include.

Lila asked me to draw some lines with a ruler on the poster to keep her words straight, then she copied some facts from her research notebook onto the paper.

She decided that the sketch of the Rockhopper penguin in her research notebook was too small for the poster, so she painted a larger version using watercolors.

When she had finished her poster, she gathered us all around to present her penguin research!

I thought that was the end of her research project, but I was wrong. The next day she excitedly brought me to the art table to show me that she had made a Rockhopper penguin puzzle and “I was thinking we could put it in the attic for a work!” And so we did.

For the next few days, Lila made puzzles of anything and everything she could think of, clearing off an entire shelf in our homeschool room to hold them all.

This is following the child in the second plane — and it is amazing.