Maria Montessori wrote a great deal about the important link between movement and learning, but I have always taken that to mean mostly fine motor movement and muscle memory with the use of academic materials. Nora, my sweet littlest one, has challenged me yet again — because she is a MOVER. A constantly moving/dancing/swaying/twirling whirlwind of a child. She requires whole body movement. Our homeschool preschool room provided the usual Montessori movement elements of the freedom to move around the classroom, to move furniture to suit her needs, carrying work to work spaces, etc. But Nora still needed more. So I put together a movement shelf with her needs in mind!
I found a small shelf at Aldi and put it in a spot in the room that has plenty of floor space around it to spread out the yoga mat. When I presented the movement shelf to the girls, I told them that all of the materials must be completed on the mat, and that they must remove their socks so they’re not slipping around too much.
I knew I wanted some children’s yoga cards, but all of the free printable versions I could find featured mainly white children. I asked for some suggestions on Instagram and ended up going with these beautifully diverse Yoga Pretzels cards.
The yoga cards help to teach very controlled movement, as well as patience and the ability to hold still. I later added a 1 minute sand timer so the girls would know how long to hold each position. After further reflection, I think a 30 second timer would be a better place to start, as 1 minute is quite long.
I alternate our yoga cards with these gorgeous Ballet Position cards, which my girls are loving!
They of course aren’t doing the positions with 100% accuracy, as they’ve never taken a ballet class before — they’re treating them almost like the yoga cards, replicating the position shown and then holding it for as long as possible.
I also have some free printable exercise cards on our movement shelf! They were originally meant to be signs for stations in a physical education class, but I printed them 4 to a page and they were the perfect size for cards. Lila particularly enjoys doing squats.
The last material on our movement shelf is just a rope — actually a jump rope but I removed the plastic handles. I showed the girls how to lay out the rope and jump over it — frontwards, backwards, and even sideways.
This is a great way to get out excess energy as well as experiment with how to move your body in different ways — they discovered that jumping backwards and sideways is far more difficult than they thought it would be!
While I created this movement shelf specifically with Nora in mind, Lila also gets quite a bit of use out of it. At least one of the girls uses something from it every day we’re in our homeschool preschool room, so I consider it a smashing success. I never had a movement shelf when I was teaching in a Montessori classroom, but I would definitely add one now!