by Edie Ching

Need to motivate young people on their research project?

Think of it as a treasure hunt where the process can be as exciting and rewarding as the final result. And the more clues you find, the more successful you’ll be. A thoroughly researched project is a treasure for the creator as well as for the receiver.

Treasure Hunting and Researching Tips

Begin by creating your own map, from questions that your topic raises.
Hopefully your research will create more questions that will help fill in the map.

For example, if the general topic is an important historical figure, the first questions might be:

  • Why is this person considered an important figure?
  • Was he or she a leader, a hero, a creator, a pioneer, an adversary?

As the research continues, these questions should expand. They might be, for example:

  • What was the influence of his or her family or home?
  • What disappointments influenced this person?

Most treasure hunters use tools, many improvising as they go along. Tools of the researcher might be:

  • Books
  • Note cards
  • Websites
  • Computer aids, such as the citation machine, a web tool that helps you gather and format the information you need for complete bibliographic entries, and various graphic organizers that help you put your ideas together via a number of strategies.

In working with these tools, teach the treasure hunter to be selective.

  • Make sure all materials, books, and websites are current and not out of date.
  • Make sure all materials are reliable by checking publisher and place of publication for a book. For a website check to who owns the web address, what links they’ve included, and the history of the web site.
  • Make sure all materials are age appropriate for the researchers so that they can understand the information without adult intervention.

Each treasure hunter has his or her own special way of exploring. The more creative the hunter, the more he or she will enjoy the hunt and the stronger their response.

Try to understand your child’s interests and abilities and work from those strengths. If the child is a visual learner, then drawing pictures of information might be his or her way of taking notes. Recording information into a tape recorder or on the computer, or making a short movie of his or her discoveries might also be effective methods of gathering information. If there is flexibility in the final product, all these techniques can be considered.

Happy Hunting!

©2008 Edie Ching; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance