West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Project Based Learning

New Era Christian School Takes the Preschool Classroom Outside

Outdoor Education Space at NEC Allows Preschoolers to Explore and Learn with Nature

New Era Christian SchoolOutdoor education allows children to connect with nature and enjoy His Creation. It provides opportunities for children to use their imaginations and to be creative with different materials made available to them. When playing in the outdoor education space, children are encouraged to use their problem-solving skills, ask questions, and work closely with their peers. The activities are open-ended, which allows them to determine how to play with the materials provided.

In a recent time outside, the preschoolers at New Era Christian School excitedly used loose parts and chalk to create and design faces, flowers, animals, designs, and other objects.

A large tractor tire suddenly became a tent and they used golf tees and string to create different rooms coming off from the tire. Students also added a “bonfire” using hula hoops as the pit and sticks as the “fire”. This type of play was strictly child-directed. They came up with this idea on their own and worked together to turn the tire into a tent and camping area.

Besides learning ABC’s and 123’s, learning through play is an important part of preschool. We are excited to create an outdoor learning space where this type of learning can take place.

Interested in learning more about New Era Christian School’s preschool or Kindergarten program?

ASK US!

West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS), is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs.

Project Based Learning at Muskegon Christian School

MCS’s PBL Provides Authenticity: Students in Real Work, with a Real Need, for a Real Audience

Touring a new family around Muskegon Christian School is one of the best parts Sonya Doty’s job.  

That might surprise you. But throughout their conversation, she gets the opportunity to demonstrate how MCS serves the variety of students whom God sends their way.  “When I walk down our halls and into our classrooms with prospective parents, I am able to shine a light on fantastic teachers, innovative teaching, and transformational education,” explains Doty, Development Director at MCS.   

When I walk down our halls and into our classrooms with prospective parents, I am able to shine a light on fantastic teachers, innovative teaching, and transformational education.



Project Based Learning (PBL) was one innovative teaching tool that MCS incorporated into the curriculum this year.  PBL involves students in real work, with a real need, for a real audience.  Teachers begin by proposing a problem to be addressed. Each project has a checklist of features (a rubric) describing the success criteria, and teachers plan lessons that teach skills and content needed to complete the project.

How does that work in the classroom?  Kari Bonnema’s Kindergarten class was studying a farm animal unit and did some activities one might expect – going to Country Dairy on a field trip and writing/illustrating a short book on a chosen farm animal. But the culmination of this unit was the challenge of Designing a Chicken Coop formed around the question “If Mr. DeKam allowed us to have pet chickens at MCS, what kind of chicken coop would you build?” Kindergarteners worked with their 5th-grade book buddy to design the chicken coop, draw the coops out on big poster papers and answer questions about why they made certain design decisions.  Then they built a model (out of Legos, wooden blocks or Lincoln logs) based on their design and then shared their projects with other students.

As Kari shares, this PBL project was simple but impactful.  “The kids loved it and really got into it, demonstrating that they understood what factors were necessary to raise happy healthy chickens.  One student even wanted to build his designed chicken coop at home!  For real!  With wood!”

Muskegon Christian School is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS),  a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region of Western Michigan, that work under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs. Benefiting from close cooperation and a seamless curriculum, the schools work together to formulate strategy and execute the necessary plans to achieve, elevate, and sustain Christian Education in West Michigan.

At WMCS, everything we do is from the perspective of a Christ-centered worldview. We not only ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”  we show our students “What Jesus Says” as it relates to the classroom, the athletic field and the community we serve. WMCS extends “Beyond Academics” and educates the whole child, putting Christ at the center of all we do. Academically, we perform with excellence, with top local and nationally standardized test scores.

West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) together strive to:

Create a seamless, exemplary Christian educational experience for families in Western Michigan from preschool through high school. Provide excellent Christian education rooted in the gospel to all who desire it. Provide a model of collaboration that will serve as a roadmap for other Christian educational communities.

To learn more about West Michigan Christian Schools (WMCS) click here and for more information about WMCS Membership or Partnership contact WMCS.