What is project-based learning?

What is project-based learning, you ask? This post will show examples of my favorite ways to teach kids without teaching them. It is one of those examples of teaching a man to fish per se. One of my favorite math projects with upper elementary and early middle school is the Budget for students activity.


Project-based learning is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.

This teaching trend is a way for kids to learn by doing and compiling their research. See below for the create a budget for students’ activity.

What is project-based learning?

This resource is practically no prep work for the teacher. All that you need to do is explain a section of the project and let students do their research on how much a dream vacation will cost.


  • Budget planning instructions
  • File folder cover
  • Brainstorming lists
  • Instructions on planning a vacation, from buying appropriate clothing, travel costs, lodging, eating out, etc.
  • Numerous planning pages
  • Reflection pages
  • total cost sheets
  • Rubrics for easy grading (students & teacher)
  • Maps
  • Postcard writing


This resource was first created four years ago (since then has seen many changes), but the one question I often receive is, what should the student budget be?

My answer to this question has always been the same. I like to give kids a big budget! Giving students a massive budget like this can help them to realize how quickly the money can be spent. Generally I set the budget at a minimum of $10,000 dollars, since this seems like a tremendous amount of money to a kid, even myself. The beauty of this project-based learning activity is that kids can better grasp budgeting money in the real world.

This resource also gives kids an idea of how much work it can take to plan a vacation once they compile all the research. PLAN A TRIP USING A BUDGET is very popular to use as an end-of-the-year math project, but the reality is that it can be used anytime throughout the year. I hope that helps teachers and homeschool parents understand better what project-based learning is!