Children’s projects are activities developed and led by children; they often focus on the production of a material artifact, performance, or the realization of an idea. In practice, these projects can be, for example, drawing comics, doing dance performances, building a hut in the forest, or coding a video game. The inspiration for the project can stem from something the children have done in kindergarten or school, or seen in the movies, amongst many other sources. These projects can also focus on helping others, or on broader societal or global issues such as feeding the homeless, cleaning the oceans, or making toys for children in long-term hospital care.
Although these kinds of projects are widely present in children’s everyday lives, they remain largely unrecognized by learning research. This research project, by building on cultural-historical activity theory, aims to increase our understanding of children's projects, especially regarding the learning opportunities they present for children and their possible impact on children’s development. In addition, the research project also aims to better understand how various settings in children’s everyday life (at kindergarten, school, and home) as well as their relationships (with parents, friends, teachers, and other adults) support (or hinder) the development of children’s projects. Depending partly on the quality and availability of this support, children’s projects can grow from small and private endeavors sustained by the child or children themselves to long-term projects with multiple converging foci and a global support network.
The Children’s Project -project is led by Dr. Jaakko Hilppö and builds on his previous research at Northwestern University on children’s projects in the FUSE Studio as well as children’s projects in Finnish kindergartens.