by Carolyn Lucento
“Okay! Time for our musical movement activity… but how do I effectively manage the children?” If you find yourself asking this question during Music circle, then check out these tips from Carolyn Lucento of the Magical Movement Company! Carolyn is a long time Montessorian and trained Orff-Schulwerk music specialist. She teaches music classes at Montessori schools throughout the San Francisco Bay area and also teaches Montessori teachers in training. You can learn more about her HERE. Carolyn will be presenting at the Trillium Montessori Summer Summit this year. Her workshop is on Wednesday, July 20th at 5PM
The Importance of Movement Activities and How to Manage the Group, Montessori Style!
by Carolyn Lucento
Music makes everyone feel like moving, and so movement becomes a natural part of the music curriculum in the Montessori early childhood environment. I always have a Movement Activity as part of Music Circle and this activity usually correlates to the music concept that I will introduce later in the lesson. The movement part of the music lesson can be the most enjoyable for the children and the teachers, but it can also be a bit of a challenge to manage the energy and excitement!
Here are some of my secrets for creating a successful movement experience for the children at your music circle:
In my training workshops I always recommend that you remember to smile! Smiling always sets up success in whatever you are presenting to young children. It also relaxes you.
Check your equipment
Check that your sound/music equipment is operating properly just before you present a musical movement activity. Most of the time, I use recordings for movement activities so that I can do them along with the children and I don’t have to worry about talking and directing them during the activity. Use recorded music!
Control of Error
Practice the activities yourself before offering them to the children. You might discover beforehand that something about the motions may need to be tweaked a little to accommodate your particular group. This is your way of setting up the control of error.
Prepare the Children
Prepare the children by introducing and demonstrating the motions that they will be performing in the activity.
Set up Procedures
Decide on the limitations that you feel are comfortable for you and safe for the children. Clearly describe to the children what the limitations are. Be clear about the limitations. As an example, you can say: “During the running part of our movement activity, I want you to stay in your spot and use your strong leg muscles to run in place.”
Monitor for Safety
Observe constantly as a safety measure. Movement activities involve large motor skills and young children are still learning how to do those.
Manage Disruptive Behavior
Move closer to a child who is disrupting others. Your close proximity usually discourages misbehavior and you will also be able to more closely “model” the movement for the child.
Always be doing the motions along with the children. This engages the children. They will be watching you and likely copying your actions.
Everyone Should be Standing
Make sure that all the children are standing. This prevents the likelihood that the child that is sitting might get bumped by a child who is moving. If a child really doesn’t want to participate, then politely ask them to move away from the group so that they don’t get bumped by the others. Invite everyone to stand up for some fun movement.
Giggling is Okay!
Movement often produces laughter because it’s just plain fun! On very rare occasions, my group has just been so loud and noisy that we can’t hear the music, so I will stop the cd and in a very neutral voice simply remind the children that I want them to move their bodies, but keep their voices quiet so we can hear the music. Above all, have fun! The children are quite adorable during the movement activities.
Keep it Brief
Keep the movement activity itself short … about one minute long. “My one minute rule”. You can always turn the volume down gradually on your iPod if the activity is too long.
Movement Comes First
Offer the movement activity early in the lesson. This will help the children warm their bodies up for playing instruments and it also gets the brain working for exploring the music concepts of the lesson. And, it will get some of the wiggles out, too!
End in a Predictable Manner
Give the children a cue when the movement activity is over. Have the children take a nice bow, or give a round of applause at the end of the movement activity. Offer a predictable routine for ending the movement.
Help the group settle back into a sitting position for the next portion of the lesson. This may take a half minute or so and you can even sing your instructions. For example, sing, “I am looking for the group that is sitting criss cross and ready!” to the melody Rain Rain Go Away. Regain composure in a playful way.