What is The Montessori Silence Game? Learning to Play and Building Attention SpansToday I had the opportunity to implement the Silence Game in my Montessori preschool classroom and for many of my students, it was their first time playing the game. For some, they had no problem with remaining still while others couldn't help but fidget, make faces at the friend beside them as well as make a variety of little noises. It is always so interesting to see how each child reacts to the Silence Game and to observe how their attention span increases from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
To implement the Silence Game, I always begin by talking with the children about what it means to be silent. Their definitions are usually very interesting! I invite them to close their eyes and listen to the sounds in the classroom for ten seconds and when the time is up, raise their hand to share what they heard. Usually, they respond by saying they heard a friend breathing, water dripping, the clock ticking, a class pet moving, etc. Before playing the game, I feel it is important that each child understands what it means to be silent and that they have the opportunity to listen for the sounds around them. I also make sure that I choose a time of day when the group is relatively calm and then I proceed with the steps below
- Once everyone is sitting at circle time I make a sound on our calming chime and the children know it is time to ‘tuck their sounds away’ and listen.
- I then explain that we are going to play game called “The Silence Game”. Right away their interest is peaked because it is a game.
- I explain that they need to keep their bodies still and calm and to not make a sound. I also let them know that they can play the game with their eyes open or with their eyes closed. Some children prefer to close their eyes and it does tend to help them focus on really listening for their name to be called.
- I then stand at the back of the classroom and quietly call the name of each child. I always begin with a few of the older children who are ‘normalized’ and understand how to play the game. It is such a treat to observe the children quietly get up from their spots and walk toward me…they are clearly determined not to break the silence. Of course, there are some children who struggle to keep their bodies calm, but by the end of the year, even the children who can’t sit still for more than a few seconds learn to appreciate the stillness of the class during the Silence Game.
- I make sure I call each child’s name and once everyone is with me at the back of the room, I thank each of them for playing the Silence Game and then send them one by one to choose some work from the shelves. It always amazes me how calm and peaceful the atmosphere feels after playing the Silence Game.
Today, I was especially amused with Jordan’s reaction to the Silence Game, as it was his first time playing the game. It was evident that he was excited to play the game and he loved the challenge of staying quiet. He didn’t make a sound the entire time, however, the facial expressions that he made while waiting for his name to be called were priceless. I observed everything from frowning, pouting, eyebrow lifting, puffing out his cheeks and even trying to touch is nose with his tongue. Jordan clearly mastered the silent part, but definitely needs to work on the stillness aspect…
View Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog series.
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. © the North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, December 17, 2010.