Learning to function in a peaceful, caring community is the backbone of a harmonious Montessori environment. Teaching a child to be kind, respectful and empathetic are vital skills that every Montessori educator works hard to achieve. These skills are taught and reinforced each and every day through modeling, grace and courtesy lessons as well as role-playing. I am always trying to think of new and effective ways to encourage kindness and I would like to share with you something that seems to be working very well.
Promoting Montessori Grace and Courtesy with the Vase of Kindness
A couple of weeks ago, I implemented something which we call, “The Vase of Kindness”. I found a lovely glass vase in a local thrift store and collected a bag full of chestnuts to represent kind deeds and/or gestures. The vase is housed on a shelf close to the large carpet we sit on for circle time and it provides a constant reminder of the importance of helping our friends, respecting the environment and being kind to others.
Beside the vase is the basket of chestnuts and anytime a child does something that they feel is kind, helpful and/or respectful, they are encouraged to place one chestnut into the Vase of Kindness. The vase has been such a wonderful addition to our Montessori classroom and the students delight in seeing the chestnuts fill the vase throughout the day.
Although Jordan is one of the younger students, he is quite mature and works hard to emulate the behavior of his older Montessori classmates. It is clear that the vase has been providing him with inspiration to help his peers and take care of the classroom and it warms my heart to watch him. For example, when Jordan notices that a jar of pencil crayons has been knocked on the floor, he is very quick to help his classmate pick them up and if he notices someone is struggling with putting on their slippers, he immediately offers to lend a hand just like the older children do. I have also observed him take the initiative to tidy the mats in the mat basket and tuck in any chairs that have been left out. He is really blossoming into a responsible member of our Montessori community and I love watching the look of pride on his face each time he places a chestnut into the Vase of Kindness.
At the end of the day, we empty out the chestnuts onto a floor mat and as a group, we count them one by one. The students are also given the opportunity to share with the group what they did during the day to help the classroom, their classmates as well as the teachers.
The Vase of Kindness is proving to be the perfect way to reinforce kind, respectful behavior on a daily basis in our Montessori classroom community!
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, November 5, 2010.