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 it.
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:


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.

Additional activities

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 Wassail Song.
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 it.

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