The Montessori environment is all about learning by doing and bringing learning to life, so it’s the perfect platform to apply the “Maker Movement”. Students are learning by doing in the classroom, and creatively learning by making in MakerSpace.
MakerSpace provides open-ended inquiry opportunities for students. They are able to combine art, science, technology, and engineering to demonstrate their knowledge creatively, while enhancing their hands-on classroom curriculum.
For example, when Upper Elementary students were studying the continents and plate tectonics, they used their MakerSpace Open Lab time to expand the classroom lesson. Students created outlines of the continents with blocks, then used blocks of different sizes and colors to map out the convergent and divergent plates.
With my background in Library Science, it was natural to develop the position into that of a MakerSpace Librarian. That means Lamplighter’s MakerSpace is based more on STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math – than just STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
In Early Childhood classes, we use books as jumping off points for the lesson. Sometimes the book fits the subject we’re working on, like reading Scarecrow by Cynthia Roland when we were designing our school’s Scarecrow Contest submission, or reading Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter when we learned about Matisse. But sometimes the books are the basis of our exploration in MakerSpace that week, like reading Perfect Square by Michael Hall, and then letting our imaginations run wild with our own squares of paper.
In Lower and Upper Elementary classes, we often use books for background information and research, but also we have read books aloud to inspire our lessons. We read Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O’Connell George while we studied origami in MakerSpace and they studied poetry in the classroom. The book is full of poems about the art of origami, so after reading the poems out loud, practicing our expressive speaking voices, students wrote their own poems, shared them with the class, and then wrote them on origami paper before folding them up into an origami creation.
We have seen a jump in student enthusiasm and love of learning. The MakerSpace has been a catalyst for change, and we see that students are thinking more creatively in the classroom. Lessons learned in the classroom are being reinforced and explored in different ways in MakerSpace, and vice versa.
Abstract thinking students are able to learn on their level and have increased the scope to demonstrate their knowledge. Montessori allows us to reach students on any level, so MakerSpace goes hand-in-hand with this to ensure that all students are engaged in their lessons.