Another variation of the exercise is to add music This helps the children’s sense of rhythm. Musical instruments such as the drum and the triangle also interest the children while they are marching Soft background music, without a pronounced, exciting rhythm, kindles interest and helps concentration just as in the Silence Activity we draw the curtains and darken the room. This creates a special atmosphere which is very helpful.
To appreciate, to understand, and to follow the rhythm and tempo comes later when the music no longer accompanies and supports the movement, but guides it and is expressed (Ref: The Discovery of the Child pages 350-354). The music in the exercise we are dealing with is not to make the children walk according to its rhythm, but only to help them concentrate on their movements. The music should not be interrupted and should go on and on without any break. There should be no break even when the piece is repeated.
WALKING ON THE LINE-VARIATIONS
Carrying one flag – eyes focused on flag Carrying two flags – eyes focused on both flags Walking with tray – eyes focused on tray which should be held straight Walking with vessel on tray – eyes focused on vessel which should be balanced on tray Walking with water in vessel on tray – seeing that water does not spill Walking with bell – avoid letting bell ring Walking with heavy object at end of string – seeing that object does not swing too much Walking with tray or basket on head – control of head Walking with object on head and in each hand – control of head and hands Walking with lighted candles in each hand – seeing that wax does not drip Walking in rhythm with the music – seeing that correct beat is kept in gait Physical exercise and games do more than provide for the improvement of muscle tone. They also allow for release of tension in a child and in a class and are valuable in channeling the energies of children who are disciplinary problems.If properly handled, games are valuable in developing a sense of team spirit, school loyalty, and cooperation with one’s companions. It is up to the teacher to assure participation of all; the child with physical handicaps that forbid active participation can still be in charge of the equipment, make sure it is returned to its place, or can be the team captain who provides the cheer-leading spirit.
FOOTPRINTS“…. footprints or forms are arranged on a floor at irregular intervals, pointing in different directions and taking unexpected turnings; and along these the pupil has to tread his course, placing his feet exactly on the forms“…. The act of directing each foot on each form is one of the best exercises for limbs which previously escaped all control; but what a superior exercise for the head above which has never suspected its regulating power. To walk among so many difficulties is to think.”Seguin, Eduard. Idiocy, and Its Treatment by the Physiological Method (1866) pages 75, 76.Footprints can be cut out of: cork, rubber, contact paper, sandpaper, and various textures to stimulate the children’s tactile sense, and at the same time develop vocabulary: e.g., rough, smooth, soft, etc.On a cool day the footprint will feel cool and on a hot day it will feel hot.Footprints can be made of different colors to aid in the teaching of colors.More ideas can come to the teacher through the children on how to use these foot-prints.Note to the teacher: Be sure to obtain written permission from parents to take shoes and stockings off.
PATTERN FOR FOOT PRINTS
Conclusion: Why Take Time to Walk on the Line
Montessori teachers are often approached by parents of their students or by visitors of other educational institutions, questioning, why they take valuable time to have the children walk on the ‘Line’, instead of using the time for ‘academic’ learning. This classic Montessori exercise is of great importance to the development of balance, eye and foot coordination, learning directional left-right, up-down, forward-backward,distance measured by arm and foot lengths; these are just some of the numerous learning experiences the child gains with his own body.
According to Piaget and other great psychologists, mathematical concepts can only be developed in young children through gross-motor movements. Piaget says that a young child cannot be taught with words pre-math concepts, he must experience and learn through his movements in space with his own body.and learn through his movements in space with his own body.and learn through his movements in space with his own body.and learn through his movements in space with his own body.and learn through his movements in space with his own body. For more about these ideas see the Sources used at the end of the article.Montessori in her book Discovery of the Child, pages 124 -126 and 137-138 goes even farther, “Musical concepts and rhythm are developed through the ‘Line.’ Geo-graphical vocabulary is developed through the use of the flags of the different nations.Respect for other nationalities is taught with flags.”Criticism of not enough socializing in a Montessori school can be dispelled through the preparation for walking on the ‘line’. Children have to move tables and chairs and some children have to give up their territorial rights, ‘my place, my table’ for the benefit of the group who wants to use the ‘Line’.Freedom in a Montessori class is sacrosanct and children are not forced to walk on the ‘Line’, as long as they do not disturb the exercise. Sometimes a child likes to leave the ‘Line’ and he can do so. He goes to sit on the place designated for ‘Non-Walkers’.The children are learning to respect group and individual rights – a taste of the Bill of Rights. Language Development plays a prominent role in a Montessori Pre-school.The ‘Line’ gives multiple opportunities to develop language and conversation. The following Resources which helped me to write this article might give you more suit-able ideas for your classroom. Start walking!
M.Discovery of the Child, Visenta Press, 1948
Piaget for TeachersPiaget for TeachersPiaget for Teachers, Prentice Hall, 1970
Moore, Shelia & Frost, Roon
The Little Boy, Clarkson N. Potter, 1986
Gitter, Lena L
The Montessori Approach to Special Education, Mafex Pub. Ushers, 1971Taraoirevekka, K.E.“Walking on the Line”, Around the Child Magazine, vol 10, Calcutta, India,1968