What makes Montessori unique in Spark Studio?

Imagine peeking into an early childhood studio window and seeing a learner working with tiny pitchers at a table. Your eyes focus as you watch blue colored water flowing from one pitcher to another on a miniature tray. As an individual looking in, you may see this pouring work and wonder if the learner is working. In fact, this practical life activity is work. Learners learn through manipulation of hands-on materials and through their experiences.

In our prepared studio lie materials that pique the learners’ interest. This is where they can build upon their foundation and plant seeds of greatness within themselves. The areas of the studio feature a plethora of Montessori materials that support the learning design. They embody key beliefs of how a learner can learn and grow throughout life. Montessori is unique as it promotes independence, social skills, and a sense of self and community.

As independence is being fostered in the learning environment, it provides the learner freedom to choose lessons that they would like on a given work. They work toward their goals of mastering a specific work. The knowledge gained from reading, writing, math, geography, and household activities helps learners to gain skills needed to live a competent life.

In preparation of cultivating a whole-child experience to live an independent life, learners are continuously reshaping their thoughts to other learners and guides. Many opportunities are available to perfect their social skills as they navigate the process of recognizing their individual needs. Sharing during morning launches, community meetings, and at outdoor play helps to nurture their innate ability of inquisitiveness.

As the year progresses in Spark Studio, learners become more aware of what they like to do, how to do tasks independently, and as a group. As they continue to practice a sense of self, they learn to take care of their environment. This leads to an increase in their awareness and pride as they are on their own paths of learning about themselves and the world around them.

In the words of Dr. Maria Montessori, “the education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.”

Building a Stronger and Positive Spark Community

“On our own we’re special, and we can chase our dream. But when we join up, hand in hand, Together we’re a team.”

“You can do this!”

“You only have 2 things left.”

“I’m just glad that you’re okay.”

As we dive into another week of Session 2, learners have been discussing and exploring ways to come together as a community. Learners are supporting each other, finding a sense of belonging, and understanding their role in the Spark community. Spark learners are slowly feeling more connected and working together in harmony.

Learners are working together as a team to support each other. Support comes in many forms and may look different on a daily basis in the studio. It may come as an observation where an encouraging word is overheard during work time and can be seen when a 2nd-year learner is helping a 1st-year learner spell words for their unique picture in their writing journal. Their desire to help echoes from the table. These experiences are challenging learners to solicit their peers for positive feedback which leads to bonding and building friendships.

Many bonding moments have occurred between learners writing a story and sharing it on Show and Share day. The excitement exudes from their faces as they proudly stand before the community reading to the other learners and their guides what they have worked so diligently on. Laughter and expressions of joy conclude after many of the presentations.

Sharing their unique and well thought out stories provides a sense of identity and belonging. In the studio, ideas come alive on paper and personalities not yet seen shine through. This excitement continues outdoors as it leads to building walls with bricks and pieces of wood and making healing potions, machines, and cupcakes. This has led to learners enthusiastically addressing any problems that may arise and solving them collectively.

As learners find their sense of identity and role in Spark, they are in agreement that together, they all have their own visions and self-confidence while recognizing that they are individually different but can help each other in many ways.

In the words of Helen Keller ” “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”.

Igniting the Spark: Off to a learner led start



This week, Spark learners embarked on a new journey as they prepared themselves to start a new school year at The Village School. Learners expressed how they felt going into a new year on their first day but by the end of the week, those emotions had quickly changed. We began to see amazing things happen as nervousness turned into calm and peaceful inquisitive minds working at their own pace.

The calmness of the returning learners is leading the Spark studio in a new direction. New learners are becoming acclimated to their new learning environments and are openly voicing their opinions in our daily launches. Grace and courtesy and safety were discussed as learners modeled how to carry materials with two hands and an outdoor tour of the playground was given to showcase new boundaries. These boundaries called for lots of fun outdoor play as learners expressed their personalities through collaborative play in hula hoop and planning to be your own boss games.

Collaboration also occurred during Sparks first music lesson. They learned about different instruments, their high and low-pitched sounds, and showed us how to control their body movements. Harmonious clapping echoed throughout the enormous room, one beat at a time. Learners were challenged with staying on beat and stopping at any given moment. Oh, how they wowed us!

What would happen if their excitement continued throughout each quest, project, and work period? Would learners awaken something inside themselves that they have never known? These questions have yet to be answered but we’re starting our journey with learners who have set their goals for a successful school year.

Teamwork at its Best

“We need those to catch frogs.”

“This is so gonna be amazing.”

“This boat is cool.”

Session 7 has been all about the Ocean. Artwork, seashells, and books about the ocean adorned the shelves. Spark heroes learned about the different layers of the ocean with their varying temperatures, amazing ocean animals that could be seen in many shapes and sizes, and how trash impacts the oceans around the world.  They even got to explore an ocean sensory bin where they could dig in to find all types of colorful sea creatures. Their last challenge encompassed everything that they had absorbed these past few weeks–building a boat. Hearing the news of the challenge, the learners erupted in enthusiastic chants and excitement.

Over the course of two days, Spark learners eagerly collaborated to build the best boat ever.  They all dove in immediately and got to work. They selected materials and started putting their ideas together. Some chose to work together in small groups and then bring their contribution back so everyone could ooh and aah. Others decided to work individually. There was no plan and no instructions. Just lots of conversations, input, and hands-on involvement.

Their newfound determination continued to show itself at the end of the year. Not one person opted out. Instead we heard shouts of “we need scissors, where’s the tape, I need that”. Heroes were listening to each other, communicating effectively, and using their critical thinking skills to solve problems.

“That can be like a motor boat”

“This is the best boat ever.”

“Umm, Umm, the ship is going down”

“It’s the soda escape boat!”

The qualities that learners showcased during this project were all focused on teamwork. Teamwork has been a big focus in our morning and closing launches and learners have been busy practicing their newfound skills in different ways. Whether helping each other achieve their session goals or working together outdoors in nature, learners have continuously shown that progress can be made together.

Throughout this school year, we saw learners who once happily played by themselves now join in to play with other learners. They feel a part of the community. Laughing and talking with other learners, voicing their opinions on how things can go has been a joy to see. Simple statements such as “What can I do now?”  can be heard loud and clear. Active engagement, curiousness, and independence have taken over. Guides have also watched as learners who did not share in conversations with other learners develop a connection like never before.

Michael Jordan once said “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” I so agree with MJ. The journey of witnessing Spark learners enter The Village School and flourish during such a trying year speaks volumes. The success of Spark Studio is in part to all of the amazing learners bringing their qualities and skills together to make a foundation for future learning. It has truly been a team effort this year!

A Day in Nature

Cicadas! Cicadas! Learners have spent a lot of time focusing on bugs in Session 6. They have been learning about butterflies, ladybugs, and cicadas for the past 5 weeks. This new found information has fostered into a life of its own and learners have turned into real life scientists as they actively explore in nature. This week, Spark learners had the advantage of going on a field trip to the park where their inquisitive minds ultimately took over.

At the beginning of the field trip, learners were asked what they already knew about insects. Hands were raised swiftly in the cool refreshing air. Learners attentively modulated their voices sharing that “some insects have wings and some don’t”. Each reply led to more questions and more questions led to more excitement.This engaging discussion gave our learners the opportunity to showcase the skills that they have steadily worked to equip themselves with. Leadership, confidence, and the ability to remain calm in challenging environments highlighted just how the Spark community fosters a sense of collaboration.

Working together to roll over logs and look for bugs was a joy to watch. Arms hugged the bulky piece of a tree as it slowly moved from its place. Afterwards, a learner was asked to showcase their bravery as they stood and modeled how a sweet-gum ball might feel on their back if it landed on their back. The learner stood peacefully without moving.

Along with cicadas, we discussed the beetle family, butterflies, and antennae. This learning experience will continue to nurture their love for nature and keep their spark as they discover new insects.

Problem Solving in the Spark Studio

Our morning started with a short video about volcanoes and how they erupt. They were riveted. Before the video was even over, learners shouted out their ideas for their morning project. Without prompting, they started suggesting ways they could make a volcano with the materials they had brought from home. They agreed that they were up for the challenge!  

The materials were simple: each table held recyclables, water, baking soda, tape, and ketchup. They quickly formed groups and got right to work. One group used a milk jug, tissue roll, shoe box, and a piece of cardboard. Another group picked out a yogurt container, plastic, a fruit cup container, and scissors. Other learners decided to go solo, and experiment with the magic for themselves.

An amazing thing happened. Without instruction on what proportions of ingredients to use for lava, learners started experimenting and problem-solving. When the first round of plain ketchup and baking soda did not work, learners added water, then more water, then hot water, then vinegar. They changed the size of containers and cut them into different shapes. They punched holes in the middle of containers and solutions poured out like waterfalls. They excitedly stood around their potions, waiting for the solutions to bubble and erupt. They experimented and experimented while never giving up.  

“It’s about to explode, I just know it!

“Oh, yay!”

“Ketchup is lava.”

“Oh, I see the problem. It’s stuck”

“Can we just make a normal one?”

“We made snow.”

“Ours exploded on the bottom, not the top.”

Although water flowed from every container and box on the table–and the Spark studio was a bit of a mess–the learners had a chance to work in teams, think scientifically, and have a rollicking good time. Naturally, the wonder, discovery skills, and exploration occurred through their eagerness to dig in.

The ability to get messy means that learners can think messy, which translates to creative problem-solving down the road. That is one of the major goals in Spark Studio, to get learners thinking outside the box. This profound effect will keep learners open to new ideas, experiments, and solutions in our ever-changing world.