A parent’s nightmare – a week-long school holiday with no travel plans (my 10-year-old, Lucas, had yet to complete his Covid-19 vaccination) and work deadlines looming! Thankfully, the We Can Be Anything ‘Careers in a Box’ project-based experiential learning activities were just the ticket to keep him constructively occupied for a couple of hours each day.
Experiential learning through role play
These activity kits are specially designed for young learners to help them foster key skills for the future. We opened the ‘Be a Journalist’ box, which revealed mysterious folders stamped ‘pre-mission’, ‘missions’, and even ‘top secret’, each designed with journalism concepts in mind. Each folder contained colour-coded and clear step-by-step instructions for kids (and parents) to fulfil the mission of making their own newspaper.
Elements such as timeliness, proximity, consequence and human interest were explained, introducing elements applied by journalists when deciding upon the newsworthiness of a story. Lucas then took on the challenge of identifying these elements in an article. Basic story structures of hook, introduction, body and conclusion were also introduced, and handy checklists listed practical tips – such as writing in the past tense and third person, including a catchy headline, and verifying assertions through credible sources.
There were also props to help kids complete the role play – such as a press pass for their individual photos, a reporter’s notebook, and a big newspaper sheet to stick the completed articles and accompanying visuals onto.
Flexible and project-based learning activities
We decided to split the mission up over five days, with some shorter missions completed in an hour, and longer ones taking over a couple of hours each day. Lucas enjoyed reading the included samples and explanatory resources from the box. As well as scanning the provided QR codes to view news websites, YouTube videos, and reference pages, he also did his own research (as any self-respecting journalist would!).
Emotional intelligence and empathy
My cub reporter then interviewed ‘characters’ related to the assigned story. Armed with examples and tips on how to ask questions by using the 5W1H model (Who, What, Where, Why, When and How), Lucas interviewed and coaxed out answers from his curious parents, who took on the character roles based on backgrounds provided in the parents’ guidebook. He also incorporated balanced views, to show more than one side of the story.
Using the inverted pyramid model, he analysed his notes and wrote two articles on the theme of food banks. His last mission was to identify and photograph (or draw) suitable items for a food bank to accompany his stories. With all these elements, he completed making his first newspaper and uploaded it to We Can Be Anything‘s website in order to receive an e-certificate containing the newspaper.
Attention to detail
I appreciated that the parents’ guidebook clearly set out which project activities should be done independently by the child, and which were parent-child activities. These collaborative learning activities were short, and it was fun to have my own Top Secret dossier, and to embody the different characters! There were also extra missions and discussion prompts for those who wanted to go further. Bonus points goes to the company as well for using sustainable packaging and materials.
What could be improved? Subscription to the Careers in a Box series (the upcoming Be A Chemist box looks the bomb!) at a discounted rate, or the option to gift a box to kids from low-income families.
All in all, I highly recommend it for curious tween kids to discover interests and develop life-skills through different professions — making this an ideal present or activity over the school holidays!
From now until 31st May 2022, use the promo code MAKCHIC to obtain 15% off your purchase. Proceeds from the sale of the Careers in a Box learning boxes go towards funding We Can Academy, a programme that connects professionals from diverse industries – such as film, law, and technology – with kids from underprivileged backgrounds, in order to introduce them to these diverse topics. This gives them broad-based exposure outside of formal schooling to build confidence and skills in order to navigate life and flourish.