Dr. Montessori was a careful observer, and
she noticed that children liked to walk along logs and the top of
fences. They enjoyed walking along a line and Dr. Montessori realized
that they were perfecting their sense of balance. The young child is in
a sensitive period for the perfection of movement and teachers must be
aware of this.
In the classroom we provide for this need with the exercises of
"Walking on the Line." We use a line drawn, or painted or taped, on the
floor in the form of an ellipse, and we teach the children to walk on
This is a group exercise with two distinct levels:
1. Exercises on the line with objects
2. Moving to the rhythm of the music
The purpose of these exercises is to aid the children in
establishing perfect equilibrium and to help coordinate movements and
the development of attention and will.
Here the whole body is involved. These exercises are many, and
varied, and are entrusted to the good sense and discretion of the
teacher, as always, for their presentation.
Level 1: Exercises on the line with objects
In order to help the children refine posture and reinforce
holding their heads high, a variety of objects is gathered for the
children to carry (one at a time) while walking on the line. The
objects, which vary from time o time, may include:
a stand with flags of all nations
a tray containing four spoons with a small ball-like object in
a box with small bells tied to long ribbons
a tray with several candles with paper shields
a cloth twisted into a circle to form the base for carrying a
basket of fruit on the head
the Pink Tower
The children begin by standing on the line at spaced intervals.
They begin to walk slowly, placing the whole foot on the line, and
taking natural steps. Gradually the children shorten their steps, until
finally they walk touching the heel of the foot with the toe of the
other. The foot should be always directly on the line, the back
straight and the head held high. There should be much practice of this.
The teacher will place the holder of flags in the center of the
ellipse. As the children walk by, they each select a flag. They hold
the flag in front of them at arm's length so that it does not wave, and
continue to walk on the line. This may be accompanied by soft music.
The teacher places the spoons with small "ball-like"objects
(possibly large marbles, small rubber balls, ping pong balls) in the
center. The child holds the spoon in one hand and tries to keep the
hand steady and in equilibrium.
The teacher places the tray of glasses in the center. The
children each pick up a glass by its stem, holding it with the first
three fingers of the right hand. They carry the glass in front of them
as they walk on the line. The object is to walk with the head held
high, placing the feet exactly on the line, without spilling a drop of
The teacher places the basket of bells in the center. Each child
must pick up a bell and hold it at arms length, by the end of the
ribbon. As the children walk along the line they try not to ring the
The children can try carrying the basket of fruit on their head
as they walk on the line, using the twisted cloth as a base. The head
should be held high and the feet placed carefully on the line.
As a special challenge for a child who has mastered all of the
above activities, invite the child to try to carry the constructed Pink
Tower without dropping any of the cubes. At first the child may start
with just the top part of the tower. The teacher can encourage the
child to challenge himself to add more cubes until he can carry the
whole Pink Tower. The pink tower is a precious material which can be
damaged by dropping, and it is therefore carried with great care, and
is treasured by the children.
This work should be repeated daily with the children. This is the
first level of this activity.
Level 2: Moving to the rhythm of music
The second level of activity includes moving to a musical beat.
Dr. Montessori uses music to further inspire children as they perfect
their movements along the line. Music motivates the children to make an
even greater effort to develop their balance and coordination.
It is wonderful to have a musical instrument in the classroom
that the teacher can play to accompany the children as they walk on the
line. However, a tape recorder, CD player, computer, iPod, or other
music player can also be used.
At first music can be used to accompany spontaneous movements:
walking, running, galloping and skipping. With practice, children will
learn to change their movement to match the change in the music.
Marches by John Philip Souza, Schumann's Soldier's March, The
March from Bizet's Carmen, When Johnny Comes Marching Home
by Gilmore, and others are excellent accompaniments to walking.
Since young children make quick, small steps, the tempo for marches are
faster for small children than for older ones.
Many folk tunes from Russia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and
Scandinavia are wonderful to accompany the faster tempo of running.
Gallops can be accompanied by Weber's, Polacca Brillante
op 72, Verdi's Masked Ball, spring Air by Josef Strauss, Beethoven's
Fidelio Sonatina op. 100 by Dvorak, as well as folk dances from
Venezuela, Scotland, Ireland, and Greece.
Skipping can be accompanied by folk tunes from
Switzerland, Holland, England, Germany, Ireland, Scandinavia, Scotland,
and America, as well as Strauss's Die Fledermaus and The English
The teacher should gather a collection of music to be used as
accompaniments when children are walking on the line. The children
naturally move in rhythm to the music, and at first no instruction is
given. Children will need instruction for learning step patterns used
in folk dancing; waltzes and polkas are greatly enjoyed by the
children. These steps may be practiced on the line, but not confined to