Matt's Maker Space Spotlight: St. Paul's Episcopal Nursery School
Updated: May 25, 2021
This month we are featuring St. Paul’s Episcopal Nursery School’s maker space! This maker space is located in a small classroom in Mt. Lebanon School District. Since Noelle’s children went to St. Paul’s, adding the maker space was a very natural extension onto the schools goals of fostering hand-on experiences for students.
St. Paul’s program is special in that it fosters play-based learning in early learners (students are ages 2.5 to 6 years old). As Eileen Sharbaugh, School Head of St. Paul's states, “We believe children are naturally curious so we want to give them opportunities to do exploratory activities, and allow them to hang on to the pieces of discovery, inquiry, and wonder from an early age.”
St. Paul’s maker space was established on the basis that children don’t have the same trajectory to learn new skills. Maker learning gives students the opportunity to find their own pace and have fun while learning. There are different pathways to one answer, so honoring each students’ learning style and giving them space to explore helps students in having unlimited opportunities.
Though COVID-19 has made it difficult to share and reuse materials in the maker space, St. Paul’s has been sending materials home for virtual activities. In addition, there are still assigned time periods (10 each week) to allow kids to create projects in the space. Projects vary from independent projects to paired ones, or activities in small groups of four. The activities shift from age to age, and teachers are able to use curriculum provided in the space or their own. There is a filing system with task cards that they can easily pull out and use to supplement their class. This eliminates the time needed to do extra planning on top of existing curriculum, reducing the time needed to prepare and get students working on projects in the space. Some of the many projects available include building a rocket, making a piece of jewelry, and even building a slide.
Though COVID-19 has affected students’ learning, especially in young children who have learned to unmute or mute before learning the alphabet, maker learning has allowed students to have the opportunity to still have hands-on learning experiences. St. Paul’s is excited to continue to introduce maker space early on and help students in their learning explorations.