Friday, April 03, 2009

Montessori Classroom Activities for Encouraging Motor Skills Development: Walking on the Line

Dr. Montessori defines Motor Skills in the following ways:
  • Movement of everyday life (walking, sitting, handling objects)
  • Care of the person
  • Gardening
  • Manual work
  • Gymnastics
  • Rhythmic movements
Walking on the Line: An Exercise in Movement in the Montessori Classroom
While observing young children, Dr. Montessori observed that they enjoy walking on narrow objects: fences, railroad ties, curbs. She developed the “Walking on the Line” activity as a Practical Life exercise to help children learn to control their bodies, develop balance and perfect equilibrium. It also serves as a way to train the mind to become aware of its own body movements. In addition, it helps develop concentration.

The line is in the shape of an ellipse and is drawn, painted, or taped on the floor. The width of the line should be just a bit wider than the child’s shoe. Children are taught how to walk on the line with good posture, holding the head erect. Read on for the full Montessori presentation for the Walking on the Line activity.

Montessori Classroom Activities for Encouraging Motor Skills Development: Walking on the Line

Presentation:
  • Invite the children to sit on the floor, just outside the line.
  • Demonstrate how to walk at a normal pace, carefully placing each foot directly on the line, completing one complete rotation.
  • Invite 3-4 children to follow you.
  • Assist the children to space themselves on the line. Discuss the importance of maintaining this spacing as they walk the line.
  • Lead the children slowly and carefully around the line.
Extension 1: Walking Heel-to-Toe
  • Begin by demonstrating how to place the heel of one foot directly in front of the other foot. The toes of the back foot will touch the heel of the foot in front.
  • Center your feet carefully as you walk.
  • Walk heel to toe all the way around one time.
  • Invite children to follow as before.
Extension 2:
  • Walking with hands at sides.
  • Walking with head held erect, not looking at feet.
  • Carefully carrying various objects: carrying a flag so it doesn't wave; carrying a bell so it doesn't ring; carrying a glass of water so it doesn't spill; carrying a ping pong ball on a spoon so it doesn't fall off; balancing a bean bag or small pillow on head while walking.
  • Walking to various types of music, ranging from slow lullabies to faster marches and classical music.
  • Using music to add control to large muscle movements: jumping, hopping, tip-toeing, skipping and galloping. Children are to try to keep the beat while walking the line.
Being able to actively control one’s body is a major step toward independence. Montessori observed that the child who is presented with the opportunity to move in appropriate ways, is not “unruly” or “naughty”. Rather, they are calm and content. They approach their work with a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and joy.

Further activities for developing fine motor skills are found in the NAMC 3-6 Practical Life manual and the 6-9 Advanced Practical Life and Introduction to Health Sciences manuals, as well as the NAMC 3-6 Sensorial Development and Music Enrichment manual.

Please see our previous blog for Part 1 of this series: Encouraging Motor Skills Development in the Montessori Classroom 
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, April 3, 2009.

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