D-cell batteries power a flickering of miniature light bulbs across a kindergarten classroom. Intermittent, high-pitched alarms sound as little fingers discover the joy of closing their own circuit. These sounds are not the result of an electrician at work. Rather, early-elementary students are exploring and testing new-found theories in electrical circuitry in the Makers session they have selected.
Look closer and you see one particular team of three students, comprised of kindergarten through second graders, begin to apply what they are learning in electrical circuitry with a particular, innovative wonder. The emerging leader of this small group happens to be a student who has not previously found academic success in the traditional sense. He receives support services for reading instruction and phonemic awareness work. However, on this day, he is leading his pack of learners.
Using their provided battery, an extra alligator clip, some wires and their alarm, this team of young children tape their contraption to the classroom door and excitedly create a functional burglar alarm. The teachers of the session beam with pride as they witness the results of these students’ scientific wonderings and explorations.
Welcome to Makers Week.
Alternative Learning Activities
Elementary students at Holland Christian (Holland, MI) spend a week engaged in alternative learning during Makers Week. They devote each morning to solving problems, exploring various technologies, building their own inventions, and ultimately teaming up to more deeply discover who God created them to be as learners.
God, our Maker, is a creative God. We seek to provide learning opportunities to celebrate the innovation and creativity of His young image-bearers through this style of learning. Students collaborate as members of a team of mixed-aged students. Their goals in each session are to solve problems, explore scientific principles, encourage one another with alternate ideas when failure is encountered, and celebrate their God-given gifts of designing, complex planning, and working within a supportive community.
Creativity and Exploration in Education
Christian schools are responsible for celebrating and enriching each uniquely created student. Every child’s God-given gift of curiosity, creativity, and capacity for innovation is to be nurtured and developed. By allowing a student’s imagination to flourish, educators enrich the learning experiences rather than stifling a student’s “out-of-the-box” thinking.
Miska Rynsburger is elementary principal at Holland Christian’s South Side Christian School in Holland, MI.