From fly tying and whips to architecture and Lego, passion projects don’t just provide educational value, they fuel students to take control of their education.
Passion Projects, or how we have come to refer to the independent study projects that my children have pursued over the years, are an excellent opportunity for middle and high school students to invest in themselves.
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Passion Projects build a sense of ownership, improve communication skills, help develop research skills, and encourage entrepreneurship. It is not unusual for children to also have a variety of interests.
My son, for example, is passionate about Lego, Minecraft, aeronautics (as well as container ships and trains), and music. Some weeks he will devote his leisure time solely to music theory and composition. The following week, he’ll move on to Lego and spend hours building models and redesigning his Lego city.
This summer, I wanted to find a book for each of my children that not only complemented their interests but also really inspired them to take their passion projects to the next level. DK Books provides a wonderful selection of books providing inspiration to middle and high school students.
Lego Architecture: The Visual Guide
For my son, I selected LEGO Architecture: the Visual Guide by Philip Wilkinson. The book comes in an extremely durable slipcover with glossy matte finish and Lego artwork.
Each of the twenty-two offerings in the Lego Architecture line get their own section. Each also includes interesting information about the design and many photographs of the complete piece, each from different angles. Footnotes provide additional tidbits about the design process.
You also get photos of the real architectural structure the Lego set was patterned after. There is a side by side comparison of the real thing with the Lego version, and also a history of the building and its chief designer(s).
My son has poured over this book for hours on multiple occasions. He shared, “Mom, this book is really cool. It helps me get an idea for how I want to design my Lego city buildings.”
Sketch Book for the Artist
For my daughter, I selected Sketch Book for the Artist by Sarah Simblet. My daughter has always been interested in art and in recent months has devoted considerable time to improving her drawing skills. She has watched video tutorials on YouTube, taken online illustration classes, and worked diligently in her own sketch books.
She has been delighted with Sketch Book for the Artist. The book shows many of the author’s works and is also beautifully illustrated with inspirational and exemplary works by significant artists from the Reniassance to the current era.
A variety of mediums including pencil (graphite), pen and ink, chalk, etc. are well represented. The reproductions are great and help create new ideas and directions. The author also gives tips as well as suggested exercises for improving your own skills.
Passion Projects work well in a public or private school classroom as well. Here, students are asked to complete a mini-research project on the topic of their choice and are given an hour each school day to work on their projects. This hour is sometimes referred to as the Genius Hour. Because the topics are selected by the students, they truly enjoy the research process and presenting their findings.
Getting started is easy. Ask your children or students about the passions they already have:
- What do you want to know more about or learn how to do?
- How does that passion inspire you when things are tough?
- In what ways can your passion inspire others? Who do you want to help?
- Can you be inspired to learn more about another’s passion?
Encouraging Student Passions with DK Books
Whatever topic your child chooses to pursue, you’ll surely find resources and books from DK Publishing. Whether their interests are related to art, cooking, or super heroes, you’ll surely find something for everyone.