Saturday, December 6, 2008
For the Birds
The story goes that Maria Montessori observed the "children's joy in making silence" when one of her assistant teachers visited the classroom with her infant daughter. The baby, just weeks old, was asleep when the teacher visited.
Maria observed that the children, who had been excited about meeting the new baby, quickly quieted down and sat down on the floor forming a circle of awe and silence around the visiting baby and mother. With respect and reverence they circled the infant, admiring it's small features and soft hair. The once busy and bustling classroom had become quiet, peaceful and reflective.
Dr. Montessori later went on to introduce 'The Silence Game' recreating the peaceful atmosphere by leading the children in 'making silence', and in doing so she would share with the children and with the world, that even young learners benefit from a quiet time in their day, a time to listen and nurture one's inner peace.
In our classroom making silence has been inspired by hungry birds. The kindergarten class that used our classroom last year, had attached a bird feeder to one of the low windows. Each day one of the toddler students will ask to feed the birds. Once every child who wants to, has had a chance to scoop bird seed, the window is closed and the waiting begins. Some of the toddlers leave the window as quickly as the arrived to it, moving on to other activities in the classroom. But there are some friends who patiently wait for the birds to come and eat.
And Oh! When they come,the birds eat and the hop about making sounds and gazing at their own reflections, while the children sit quietly and smile, making silent observations. Truly, it happens just this way, almost every day. And it is beautiful. At the beginning of the school year when we introduced the bird feeder; the children would run to the window shrieking with excitement and of course, the birds would fly away. On occasion this will happen still but usually one or two out of the ten will stop the shrieking friend by saying, "Shhhh...you'll make them fly away." Then together they will creep closer and quietly, finally sitting down to watch together. Sharing the moment with quiet appreciation.
Our classroom is called 'The Nest'. At circle time, I lead the children in making silence, by reminding them about the birds at the bird feeder. It is a tangible point of reference for them and it works. They so love those birds!
Pine Cone Bird Feeders:
The toddlers loved making these pine cone bird feeders. Using small spreaders they spread sun butter (a peanut butter substitute made from sunflower seeds) all over the pine cone they chose. Next they spooned bird seed over the sticky pine cone. We later hung these yummy bird ( or squirrel) snacks from the monkey bars for our feathered friends to enjoy.