Montessori is Movement

January 17, 2019


One of the things I like best about Montessori is that our children move throughout their day. I find it hard to imagine that children are expected to sit in desks, quietly, for such a large portion of their day in traditional schooling methods. I know that I cannot expect myself to sit all day. I need to move a lot and my best thinking happens when I do. In a Montessori classroom, a great deal of lessons are designed with movement in mind.

Dr. Montessori was ahead of her time, a genius, and a keen observer. She was aware of kinetic memory and the connection between the body and or the hands moving, and the brain connection and so designed a method of learning that involved children getting to move during their work time. Lessons that involve a lot of purposeful movements start in Casa Preschool (age 2-4) and carry on throughout their schooling. All the movement she discusses in her writings are part of a lesson and they are purposeful.

Some examples are the numerous steps to learn how to wash a table in Casa. The child walks back and forth to get a jug of water, fill up the wash basin, then rubs the scrub brush on the soap, then scrubbing the table from top to bottom, left to right with little circle motions. When done that, they will rinse the table, then wipe it dry. The child then empties the wash basin and returns all materials to the shelf. There are many lessons where the child goes back and forth retrieving their materials to do on a floor mat, such as the long rods or the broad stair, which they carry only one at a time and there is 10 of them and they carry them in a specific way. Another example, especially in the Casa is watching the small child carry a glass container or one filled with liquid and noticing how slowly and carefully they walk.

Movement happens in the elementary, with some lessons being movement specific, such as the noun or verb game. The noun game is where names of things are put around the room and it is kind of like a scavenger hunt for the students and they go collect the words, reading them to the teacher after. The verb game is a basket of action words the students read and act out. Even in math there is a lot of movement, students use the golden bead materials to play the bank game, where the teacher asks the student to bring them a number like 3754 on a tray. The teacher will typically sit far away from where the material is kept, so the student must walk back and forth a lot. These lessons and many others are purposeful in the child’s learning of math or grammar, and an observant teacher may purposefully give these lessons to a student that may seem to need some extra movement opportunities in their work morning.


Dr. Montessori also developed specific lessons that were only about movement. These lessons help develop gross motor skills ,concentration, and to bring awareness to the child about their body movements. These include walking on the line and walking the line with a bean bag on their head. It is common to walk into a Montessori Casa Preschool classroom and see a child walking around a tape line on the floor, concentrating very hard to stay on the line.

Some advantages to the movement exercises are: the body gets to move, therefore calming the body and the mind. Some of the movements are repetitive and can be seen to almost cause a meditative type state in children, achieving a profound state of calm. Students become aware of their body and the steps of movement, allowing their thoughts to be in the present. A teacher will give these step by step lessons in silence with an exaggerated slowness and emphasis on each movement. Bringing the child’s attention to these movements and then the child will try to copy these moves.

Almost every lesson has a movement component in it. Even if it is just getting up to retrieve materials from the shelf and then to put it away. Our children are moving all day. Beyond the kinesthetic connection, the ability to move allows for students to concentrate longer when working on a lesson, they are calmer and happy to learn because all their needs are being met.

Happy New Year! Let’s get moving!

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