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Maker (STEAM) Studios

The arts can no longer be treated as frill. Arts education is essential to stimulating the creativity and innovation that will prove critical to young Americans competing in a global economy.
– Arne Duncan


The Maker Movement fits well with the Montessori Method. The teacher is a guide, observing children and the choices they make within the space. Those choices guide lessons and what new materials are introduced.

Wilmington Montessori School has three Maker (STEAM) Studios on its campus, one for each program level: Toddler, Primary and Elementary/Middle School. In these studios teachers and students ask questions, seek answers and investigate ideas. These studios encourage investigation, collaboration, problem-solving and skill-sharing. Our Maker Studios are designed to provide cohesive experiences with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics). They are places where children will participate in teacher-directed learning but also where self-directed learning occurs.


STEAM Maker Studios by Age Group

Toddler (ages 1-3)

Students in WMS's Toddler Program visit their specially designed STEAM Maker Studio at least once per week. The Toddler Maker Studio is a safe place for children ages 12 months through 3 years to practice and explore in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Through the Maker Studio, Toddlers learn to cultivate communication, and engage their natural curiosity, creativity and innovation.

Sample Toddler Maker Studio activities include:

  • Participating in and observing scientific experiments.
  • Creating materials such as paper, soap or bird feeders.
  • Freely exploring the Maker Studio's materials.
  • Beginning to code and sequence using robots.
  • Building with age-appropriate engineering materials such as natural blocks, marble runs and Picasso tiles.

Primary (ages 3-6)

The Primary (3-6) Maker Studio provides an age-appropriate environment for preschool and kindergarten-age students to continue to develop their understanding of STEAM concepts during weekly visits. While the materials and environment become more complex at each level, the main goal of the program remains the same: to encourage each child’s natural curiosity, creativity and innovation. Through Maker Studio activities, Primary students learn:

  • Flexible and adaptive thinking.
  • Higher order thinking skills (critical, logical, reflective, metacognitive and creative thinking).
  • Communication skills and collaboration.
  • Cooperation and fellowship with their peers.

Sample Primary (3-6) Maker Studio activities include:

  • Experiencing sensory lessons to promote cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional skills.
  • Participating in scientific experiments and experiences.
  • Continuing to code using robots and coding apps.
  • Testing the strength of structures and materials.
  • Engineering boats and bridges.

Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)

Students in the Lower Elementary (6-9) Program visit the Elementary Maker Studio weekly. Here, students use more advanced, state-of-the-art equipment while continuing to explore some of the materials they have seen in the Toddler and Primary Maker Studios with a deeper understanding. It is at this level that many children begin to truly develop a "Maker Mindset" that allows them to believe that they can build, create, plan, design or learn anything.


Through Maker Studio activities, Lower Elementary students learn:

  • Cooperation and fellowship with their peers.
  • They can make mistakes, learn and recreate from their mistakes.
  • To develop a community in which the arts are appreciated, valued and seen as a critical component of all of the sciences.

Sample Lower Elementary Maker Studio activities include:

  • Participating in scientific experiments and presenting finding and data from those experiments
  • Exploring STEAM apps and websites
  • Engineering with diverse building materials such as paper, electric circuits, Picasso tiles, pattern blocks or clay
  • Researching scientists, mathematicians and artists
  • Developing and advancing coding skills
  • Making Drawbots

Upper Elementary (ages 9-12)

For students in the 9-12 Program, the Elementary Maker Studio is a safe space to get to know themselves better as learners, advance their understanding of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, and make connections with other curricular areas. Through Elementary Maker Studio activities, students learn:

  • To become advocates in their learning.
  • To better understand others and their cultures by sharing and creating works of art from different nations around the world.
  • They can make mistakes, learn and recreate from their mistakes.
  • About Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences so they can identify their own affinities in learning and appreciate others' intelligence, interests and abilities.

Sample Upper Elementary Maker Studio activities include:

  • Presenting information in a variety of technology platforms such as Keynote, PowerPoint, Google Slides and a variety of presentation apps.
  • Participating in scientific experiments and presenting their results
  • Collaborating with classmates on STEAM projects.
  • Creating and developing coding skills using coding websites and coding materials such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
  • Learning about and sharing their own personal intelligences.

Middle School (ages 12-14)

The Middle School Maker Studio is a safe space for students to get to know themselves better as learners and teachers, continue to advance their understanding of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, and make connections with other curricular areas. Through Middle School Maker Studio activities, students:
  • Become advocates in their learning.
  • Better understand others and their cultures by sharing and creating works of art from different nations around the world.
  • Learn about STEAM around the world.
  • They can make mistakes, learn and recreate from their mistakes.
  • Learn about Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences and other neuroscience practices so they can identify their own affinities in learning and appreciate others' intelligence, interests and abilities.
  • Apply their learning in the Maker Studio to make connections in the classroom and during experiential learning.
     

Samples of work for middle school:

  • Presenting work using various apps
  • Learning to use 3D printers and laser cutter
  • Participating in year-long learning projects
  • Building on their knowledge of coding skills
  • Participating in the artist-in-residence program
  • Creating materials for younger students in the school
  • Creating micro-economies
  • Creating materials for the outside environment
  • Working with classmates to share learning with other students

Paula Sharpe

Paula Sharpe
STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts & Mathematics) Coach, Middle School Science
B.S., Early Childhood & Elementary Education, Wilmington University
AMS Certification:, Elementary I


Favorite Montessori Moment: One of the most special moments for me in the Montessori classroom is during a child's "Birth & Life" (birthday) celebration. Each child gets so excited to "walk around the sun" with his or her parents watching and sharing moments of their lives with their school community. I always ask each child from the classroom to share one wish he or she has for the birthday child. As we go around the circle I am always so proud of what each child has to say about the birthday child. When I first became a parent, one of the milestones I most looked forward to sharing with my own children was "walking around the sun." While my own children no longer attend Montessori school, each year we take those steps around the sun.