A Montessori class is full of movement.
You want to do the pink tower?
After the child has placed his floor mat, he makes ten trips back and forth, between the work mat and the shelf where the pink tower is stored. If you count retrieving and returning the floor mat, the child will have moved through the room 22 times when he has completed the work. Not only does setting up any given work take a fair amount of trips through the class, most often there is no straight path to the shelf or to the table – there are other children’s floor mats, other shelves and tables in the way – the child must be able to coordinate his movement as not to step on any other child’s work or run into a table or shelf.
But what do you do when you see there is a need for more movement, especially during the morning work cycle?
You make a movement shelf.
Yes, by default a Montessori class requires a child to refine his movements to be able to function in the class, and walking on the line is a wonderful work that enables the child to further practice and hone those skills, but, by providing actual movement works that are skill specific and can be practiced at any time, this is filling a need that needed to be met in our class late this spring.
My co-teacher and I had an extra shelf (how often do you get to say that?) that next year we have great plans for, but we weren’t using it yet. Another coworker attended a session at the AMS annual conference by Melani Alexander Fuchs, and raved about the ideas she presented and purchased the book, Movement Matters. And just like that, our movement shelf was born.
Since we started it toward the end of the year, and we are learning as we are going, we are keeping it simple. At group time on Mondays we present the new movement work and it is then available on Tuesday. We are also keeping the shelf to three total work options. Two of our current works are adaptations from the book, Movement Matters, the other two are our creations.
Jumping over the rope
- Floor mat (we found a large mat that was a different color than our work mats)
- Two different colored circles, can be felt/plastic or any nonslip material
- Rope that is the same length as the floor mat is wide
- Basket to hold circles and rope
- Carry the floor mat to the work space
- Go back to the shelf and bring the basket to the work space
- Place the rope across the floor mat
- Place a circle on each side of the rope
- Put slippers in basket and put the basket to the side of the floor mat
- Jump from one circle to the other
- Hop on one foot to the opposite circle, using the same foot
- Hop on one foot to the other foot as you jump from circle to circle
- Place circles as far apart as possible (we did require that the children kept the whole circle on the floor mat)
We have loved this work. It has focused some of our most wandering children. It has provide a vigorous, yet controlled, movement practice. We have watched children jump, back and forth, for over 20 minutes. Has it been abused, yes, and we simply ask the child to show us the safe way to do the work, and if we have to remind them again, we ask them to clean-up and they can try again tomorrow.
(sorry no picture – it is really hard to get a faceless picture when most the poses are seated poses!)
- Towel (we are looking for an inexpensive yoga mat that we will cut for size)
- Yoga cards – we are using Yoga Pretzels, are currently have mostly seated poses
- Take the towel from the shelf and unroll it in the work space
- Take the basket with cards from the shelf and take it to the towel
- Pick a pose from the basket, name the pose, and then demonstrate the pose
- Return the card to the basket and repeat with remaining cards. We started with three and have about five to six now
This has not been as popular as the jumping work, but I think it has its place. It is a calming work, and a great work to offer to a child that seems unbalanced. There have been some lovely moments of watching the children pick the pose from the basket and then really work and try to match the picture.
Egg and Spoon Walking
- Two carpet squares
- Two similar baskets
- One piece of felt, about 1.5 – 2 inches wide, cut to a length you desire. Ours is about 5 feet long
- A small basket that the felt fits in when rolled up
- 3-6 plastic eggs
- A spoon
We have our two large baskets nested together, with the eggs and spoon inside. Then the basket with the felt line sits on top of the eggs and the spoon.
- Take the two carpet squares to the work area, lay them an approximant distance apart
- Bring the baskets with the eggs, the spoon and the felt line
- Place the felt line so it connects the two carpet squares
- Place the empty basket on the opposite carpet square
- Put an egg on the spoon and walk slowly across the line
- Put the egg in the empty basket
- Walk along the line back to the first basket
- Repeat for all the eggs
- Repeat as many time as desired
- Walk heel to toe
- Walk backwards
- Walk any other way you can think of
This too has been a great hit, and has been much harder than I think the children expected. This is a common variation for the traditional Montessori walking on the line, but it is available all the time in the morning work cycle, and can be freely chosen and practiced.
I do love the way the works we have presented have fit so many different movement needs, from vigorous jumping, to focused line walking and finally restorative yoga. Overall, the children have continued to be very respectful of both the works, and of the children doing the different movement works. The children are showing us that this was a need in our class at this time, and they are benefiting greatly from these works.
* As I write this on Sunday night, I have a Sit ‘n Spin ready to go out the door tomorrow morning. Right now, I am not really sure how it is going to work. It may have to be a stationary work, but we will figure that out tomorrow, and I will update this post Tuesday evening after the work has been put into rotation on the shelf.
Here it is Thursday, and I am just now updating this! Where did the week go? Well, we did make the sit ‘n spin a stationary work. We tried to put it in an area that was a little more isolated, because it was a pretty attractive/distracting work!
It was a big hit. Many of the children didn’t have the basic hand over hand motion that you use when you do a sit ‘n spin. I think by the end of the week quite a few had picked up the motion, and the ones that couldn’t even spin themselves at the start, were at least able to do that.
I do think we will bring it back next year.
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