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What is that weird thing the children are doing?!

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

Walking the Line

“Maria Montessori observed that there is a natural inclination for children to want to walk in challenging and difficult places: along a fallen tree, on a narrow plank, or following the lines of a sidewalk. Montessori introduced the Walking on the Line activity to satisfy this natural curiosity and propensity, and to help the child develop coordination of gross motor movement” (North American Montessori Center).

Walking on the line activities can begin in the classroom as early as two and a half years of age. Often the “line” is an ellipse formed on the floor with tape; though this shape is not a requirement, it has become the norm. Walking the line is often done as a group activity but can also be an individual activity. The young child is learning to control their body, while the older child is perfecting these movements and is ready for challenge. Some of the ways to add degree of difficulty are: carrying an object like a bell with the intent of not ringing it or an egg without dropping it, moving to varied beats of music, varying the shape of the line, and using a raised surface such as a rope as a line to add a sensory experience. One of my (and the children’s) favorite extensions for walking on the line is to name and carry the flags of the United Nations as the children walk to music. I have used this with great success for children aged 2 ½ through 9 years old. During Olympic years, I have had parents of 3-year-old children contact me to express shock and surprise when their child was telling the country before the announcer did during the opening ceremonies. Right now, our class is working our way through North and South America. It’s amazing how quickly the children learn the flags and the names of the countries they represent.

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