Creative Montessori’s new middle school turns math lessons into life lessons

Teaching life lessons through class at Creative Montessori School

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A power saw, a caulk gun, and a hammer and nails aren’t the usual supplies for a middle school math class, but for the seventh graders at Creative Montessori in Homewood, the tools are just what they need.

They are building a Little Free Library, and it was all their idea.

“The Little Free Library is something that we have wanted at the school for several years. About three years ago, some of the girls in one of the elementary school classes had seen them and they really wanted them at school, they thought it was really Montessori,” says Creative Montessori librarian Sara Glassman.

The addition of the middle school this year brought the resources to see it through. Newly hired adolescent lead teacher Christopher Schell has a background in construction and art.

“I really like teaching kids how to use their hands, to get out there and do a little problem solving, feel the materials and take it out of the textbook so they understand somebody puts this stuff together, it might as well be them,” says Schell.

Montessori teacher Christopher Schell teaches life lessons along with math
Montessori teacher Christopher Schell teaches life lessons along with math

So the students measured and plotted and planned.

“We did some math problems based on how many books we want it to be able to hold at one time, the average sizes of books and things like that. But they put the design together and have been doing the construction,” says Glassman.

The students created the blueprints and a materials and supply list that was within their budget. Then Schell helped teach them about power tools.

“It’s really helped me learn. I didn’t know how to drill properly until I started doing this, and now I know how to drill, which is a nice life lesson,” says seventh grader Callie Hontzas. “It’s harder than I thought it would be, there’s more math than I expected.”

Montessori 7th graders building little library for their school community, and the community at large
Montessori 7th graders building little library for their school community, and the community at large

When the project is complete, it will be installed near the school’s carpool line, right outside the library. It will have a shelf for children books, another for adult books, as well as a place for seed packets, made from the school’s garden. Books will be donated by the school and families with the hope that the community outside the school will benefit and participate too.

“Montessori has a component for stewardship where we give back to the community whether it’s the classroom, the rest of campus, or the city at large,” says Schell.

The lesson seems to be sinking in. The students are already planning to build a new oak bookshelf for the library and bat houses for the west end garden.

“The kids really like helping people and the idea that maybe other folks that can’t have access to books as much will be able to get books, and they are responsible, is something that is really getting even the littlest kids here excited,” explains Glassman.

VIDEO: Little Free Library

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