E-STEM Learning

steam learning at preschool

What many parents don’t realize is that E-STEM is a central component of the Montessori method. Throughout our classrooms, we have a variety of “work” (materials) that focus on mathematics, engineering, science, and the environment. Every day offers the child opportunities to innovate, explore and discover while using these hands-on materials or by spending time in the outdoors.

In addition to the inevitable exposure to E-STEM by exploring our classrooms, our lead teachers incorporate an E-STEM curriculum into circle times and afternoon learning.

We are very proud of Sonnet alumni, many of whom have gone on to succeed in gifted and talented programs emphasizing STEM or E-STEM, such as Harriet Bishop, WestWood and WestWood’s SAGE Academy.


The first female doctor in Italy, Dr. Maria Montessori, first developed Montessori education over 100 years ago. Practiced in over 200 public schools in the United States and Canada, and in thousands of schools worldwide, Montessori education is known for fostering self-discipline and creativity hand-in-hand with independence and social responsibility. Successful graduates of the system include Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Anne Frank.


The National Center for STEM Elementary Education is located right here in the Twin Cities at St. Catherine’s University.  They very much recognize how STEM is a component of the Montessori method, and have a STEM for Montessori Teachers Graduate  Certificate Program.  A study done on St. Kate’s Montessori-STEM certificate discovered that “Engineering proved to be a perfect fit in the Montessori system of education.    


Montessori education also proved to be an excellent fit with engineering education at the elementary levels. Montessori education is holistic in nature and uses developmentally appropriate, hands-on, didactic materials to inspire engagement and learning in children.

Inquiry is fostered through initial experiences (lessons) that offer both inspiration and instruction, and through the follow-up work (assignments) that encourage children to deepen their understanding through continued exploration and application of the materials and concepts. Design is an essential element of the Montessori environment.
A key message in Montessori education is gratitude for those who came before,  linking students’ modern lifestyles back to the many nameless engineers who came before. Additionally, Montessori education inspires students to think about the gifts that they have to offer to future generations. Our work with engineering today in the classroom is sure to bear fruit in cultivating the engineers of tomorrow.  Through the lens of Montessori pedagogy and curriculum, engineering comes alive in the study and exploration of human needs..”.

The Montessori method views the child as a natural scientist, and although it is more than 100 years old, its philosophy is still in alignment with current educational trends.



Beginning with the Practical Life and Sensorial exercises,  students in the Children’s House are exposed to the fundamental rules of math and science through the discovery of natural laws and universal truths.

  • A simple pouring activity on which a young three-year-old works, very concretely proves the scientific method of inquiry, based on observation, inference, and experimentation.

  • A child may test which four Knobless Cylinders cannot only balance a rectangular prism from the Brown Stairs, but actually get the prism to move –  engineering!

  • Land and Water forms introduce the child to the science of geology.

  • Through the work with the Golden Bead materials, the children build a strong understanding of the decimal system, the foundation of mathematical operations.

  • The concrete experience of building the Pythagorean Theorem of A2 + B2 = C2  using the Trinomial Cube, exposes the child to algebra for the first time.


Manipulating didactic materials supports the STEM belief that hands-on learning is necessary for success. This belief is nothing new to the Montessori classroom. Dr. Maria Montessori stated, “The hand is the instrument of the brain.”