Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

Independent Study Projects

Whether you are planning a showcase festival, or have some informal, ongoing ISP development in your classroom - or at home over the summer - it can be useful to set some boundaries, even if that just means establishing a focus question.

Of course you can create your own project menus, but here are some ideas to get you started. Parents and teachers are welcome to use these with learners or for non-commercial use at no charge, but please keep the author credit visible on pages you share, and offer a link back to this website on digital versions. Thanks!

Project Format Options:

108  Ways to Show What You Know

108 Project Format Options for all kinds of Independent Study Projects
The link will take you to a Google Doc.

Subject Area Independent Study Project Menus

  • Communication Skills
  • Geography, History, Civics
  • Science
  • Engineering, Artistic, Spatial
  • Inter and Intrapersonal
  • Miscellaneous
Communication Skills

Independent Study Projects related to Communication Skills and Media Challenges

The link will take you to a Google Doc.

Geography, History, Civics
Engineering, Artistic, Spatial
Inter and Intrapersonal

Ideas for Family Projects

With the adventures in challenge menu, you can create a simple scrapbook, blog, or video diary for the school year with a photo and some artifacts from each challenge. You might want to record a before and after statement for each family member about the experience, to see the different perspectives.

Adventures in Challenge Project Menu

Culture & Cuisine

Go out for dinner and try food from a new culture

Extra Challenge: Write a restaurant review

Live On Stage

See a live theatrical production

Extra Challenge: Audition for a show or take dance/theatre classes

Book Club

Have friends and family read a book and meet to discuss it.

Extra Challenge: Make snacks that connect to the book.

Build a Model

Build a vehicle, tower, or other structure, and paint if desired.

Extra Challenge:

Build using only recycled materials

Make It or Bake It

Prepare a new recipe for your friends & family.

Extra Challenge: Plan a menu of healthy dinners for one week, or one month.

Taste Test

Compare 3 brands in a taste test, and graph your results.


Spend 1 week without electronic entertainment, and plan what you’ll do instead.

Get Moving

Try a new sport or exercise at least 20 minutes a day for two weeks.

Scavenger Hunt

Organize a scavenger hunt for your friends, family, or neighbors

Art for Kids’ Sake

Write a picture book, chapter book, comic book, or play for kids.

Longtime Dream

Try something you’ve always wanted to do but never have, like running a race, singing on stage, or going somewhere new.

Field Trip 1

Go to a museum, zoo, concert, dinner theatre, sporting event, observatory, or garden you’ve never visited before.

Field Trip 2

Go to a farmer’s market, auction, amusement park, art gallery, fair, fashion show, recyclying center, or fire station you’ve never seen

Get Crafty

Make a mosaic, tie dye shirt, greeting cards, soap, origami animals, doll house, bird house, or fairy cottage.

Random Kindness

Donate to Locks of Love, leave mystery positive notes, donate toys and clothes, or give time and money to a good cause.

Family Tree

Investigate and chart your past.

Book/Movie List

Record the books or movies you’ve seen from August of this year through next April.


Perform a play, dance recital, poetry reading, rock concert, or exhibition game.


Make the food yourself and go to an outdoor spot you’ve never visited before.

Gone Fishing

(or something)

Go hiking, biking, horseback riding, walking, or swimming for a week and chart how far you go.

Camera Challenge

Take at least 25 themed pictures in one day: your backyard, town, family, nature, things that are blue, or you and a friend as different characters

Party Time

Have or attend a party with dogs, costumes, karaoke, digital camera challenges, or a birthday party for someone whose birthday it isn’t.

50 New Words

Learn how to count to ten in five languages besides English (if you can already do it in other languages, you have to learn new ones.)

Specific Skill

Learn a new song on an instrument, new yo-yo or magic tricks, how to juggle, or how to shoot from the free throw line.


Organize a contest to build with Legos, raise money for charity, create a recipe, name an ice cream flavor, shoot free throws, or singing races.

G.I.F.T.  Wright, 2008