Primary School Kids Use Project Management to Transform Recess


08 July 2016

Kendra Modzelewski

Written by Kendra Modzelewski

Topics Youth

Picture of primary school kids

The “What Game Are We Playing” youth program has been developed into a downloadable, ready-to-use case study with “how-to” details including a scheduling breakdown and a lessons learned component.

The Leonardo da Vinci primary school in Paderno D’adda, Italy realized it had a very big problem: Recess. Rather, how disruptive recess was to students and teachers who weren’t free to play as well.  Who better to solve this dilemma than the individuals with the most at stake?  The school administrators and teachers decided the students would play the primary role in creating a solution.


Using the PMIEF resource Projects from the Future primary school kit, three teachers set out to guide fourth graders to address the problem. Fifty-five children took part in this project-based learning (PBL) exercise.  With severely limited play-space and kids from multiple grades sharing the same recess period, playtime at the school was becoming chaotic.


The students started the project with one major question in mind: How can we accommodate multiple children in cramped areas without being disruptive, yet still make it fun enough to qualify as “recess.” The fourth graders had quite the challenge to contend with. Lucky for them, they had project management (PM) and good leadership and guidance on their side.


The teacher-leaders employed a constructivist approach of PBL to encourage life skill development along with guiding the students through initiation, planning, execution and completion stages of the project. As the kids worked over a four month period, they accessed life skills such as creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. PBL isn’t simply learning PM processes and finishing projects. A crucial element of PBL with the integration of PM is the development of subject matter interest and important skills that serve youth from grade school to retirement.


After months of hard work, the student group completed the “What Game Are We Playing?” project. The students had split up into small teams of six, with teacher and parent support. These groups were each tasked with coming up with an interactive, yet non-disruptive game appropriate for recess. A foosball table, a puppet theatre and a bowling alley lane were just a few of the notable games the kids, with the help of PM principles, built.  In conclusion, the Leonardo da Vinci primary school had seven new recess games that addressed the initial problem of overcrowding and distraction. Additionally the students involved learned valuable PM process and vital life skills.


PMIEF is excited to deliver a case study on the Leonardo da Vinci students’ experience, including details to help implement a similar program.  Download our case study to learn about the program’s schedule, time allotment guidelines, lessons learned, and an appendix aligned to PMBOK Guide® terminology.