MakerSpace WonderLab Shelves

Why We Make

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.

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The Grand Scarecrow Finale

After learning so much from our Visiting Artist, Youngblood Studio, students were more than ready to work on the school scarecrow. The studio sent back 4 composite drawings and we had students vote on what scarecrow they would most like to make.

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We voted anonymously and then predicted what scarecrow we thought would win. Though the votes were fairly evenly distributed, number 4 won!

Youngblood Studio let us upcycle leftover shop materials to create our scarecrow body. We dedicated a day to applying over 9,000 sequins to our owl form! Every student had an opportunity to help out, so our scarecrow is truly a team effort!

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We named our scarecrow owl “Dr. Hoo”, and Youngblood Studio delivered him to Lichterman Nature Center for us.

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The very next day, we were informed that Dr. Hoo had won 1st place in the Best Critter category! All of the students are so proud, and excited to go see him in the wild. The win was a great way to wrap up our scarecrow project, and we can’t wait to have him live on our campus after Lichterman’s exhibit closes in November.

More Scarecrow Structures

Our students have been a roll with creative scarecrow ideas. They have been using unconventional materials to build unique scarecrows that we can’t resist showing off.

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A scarecrow drawing was transformed into a mask after using a paper punch.

 

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The Lego scarecrow has long arms for the birds to land on.

 

Even scarecrows built from blocks all look different:

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This scarecrow has two tall yet sturdy legs.

 

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This scarecrow includes elements of color and texture to attract birds.

 

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Students worked together to create a large, detailed scarecrow: notice the shoelaces on his feet! They are hiding a ticking timer in his arm to scare off birds.

 

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Inspired by all the scarecrow designing and building, a student decided to draw a crow!

Lower Elementary Exploration

Before more structured lessons and projects begin, students from the Lower Elementary classroom had a chance to explore everything the MakerSpace has to offer.

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Partners worked to build the most elaborate MagnaTile structure using all of the pieces.

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Newton’s Gravity Game requires players to get five balls of the same color into a row, but the balls are constantly moving so you have to stay vigilant!

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Four students worked together to build a tall marble run.

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Laser Maze challenges give students an end point, but they have to figure out how to place all the mirrors and beam splitters in order to light up the goal and complete the challenge.

It was interesting to see what activities the students naturally gravitated towards, and how they used their knowledge to take on new tasks. We are looking forward to seeing how they apply this balance of wisdom and imagination to upcoming projects!

The First Day

The first day of school means the first day of MakerSpace!

The kindergarteners came for Open Lab, which means they were the first students to explore our new MakerSpace. Open Lab is a chance for classes to explore different works in the MakerSpace and build freely. Today the students worked in the WonderLab.

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Students worked together to build a marble run from the ground up.

 

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Another student decided to make a marble run out of blocks.

 

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We used a timer with the spinning top work to see which size would spin the longest. The tiniest top was the winner – it kept spinning for one minute and fifty-seven seconds!

 

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Building sand castles with kinetic sand had a learning curve – the sand is so soft, it stuck in the molds. Students used trial and error until they were able to create an entire sand fort!