When I was a Montessori Toddler Teacher, I had the usual movement area set up — basically just a large corner of the room with some scarves, a small climber, and some movement cards. Once I started doing Montessori homeschool preschool with my girls, I knew I needed something more — especially for my daughter Nora. Nora is a child who needs to move her whole body quite frequently, so I’ve become quite creative over the past several years to make sure there were opportunities for her to move within in our Montessori classroom space. I’ve gathered all of those activities together in this post! We’ll begin with our formal Movement Shelf before looking at ways to incorporate full body movement in all areas of the Montessori classroom.
If you are a Montessori teacher or homeschooler, I highly recommend setting up a movement shelf in your classroom. This is a space that you can redirect a child who is displaying a high amount of energy with their work, as well as a place that a child will learn to use when she recognizes on her own that her body needs to move. What a wonderful self-awareness to promote!
We have a small movement shelf in our Montessori homeschool preschool room alongside a kid’s yoga mat. The yoga mat serves to define the movement space, and it is used with each of the activities on the shelf. If you have a smaller classroom, you can make the hallway outside the classroom your dedicated movement space.
I alternate those yoga cards with these ballet position cards. So much fun to pretend to be a ballerina!
The next material on our movement shelf is some exercise cards. I found these Physical Education exercise station cards and printed them in a smaller size. The child can choose one from the basket, do the exercise on the yoga mat, and then move on to the next.
The final material on our movement shelf is a jump rope with the handles removed. The child can arrange this rope in any way she pleases on the yoga mat to practice jumping over it forwards, backwards, from side to side, on one foot, on both feet, etc.
Many classrooms put some painter’s tape on the floor for the child to practice walking on the line (like a balance beam), which is great for movement. I’ve also seen children doing this while balancing something on a spoon, or bent over with a rolling pin pressed to the line to move in that way.
Those are just a few things that can be on an official movement shelf — but the Montessori classroom was *made* for movement. How else can you incorporate movement on your Montessori shelves?
Another fun way to incorporate movement in the Montessori classroom is through scavenger hunts! These are a great way to extend traditional Montessori materials while allowing the child to experience that full body movement.
Match all of the color tablets, then go on a scavenger hunt around the classroom to match the colors! You can either carry the tablets with you to place on top of the colorful objects, or gather the objects and bring them to your work mat.
You can do the same type of thing with beginning sounds! Once the child has mastered a new set of sandpaper letters, gather things from around the classroom that begin with those sounds and put them on your work mat.
If a child seems bored with picture-to-picture matching, incorporate movement! I like to use calendars for this. Hang up the big pictures from the calendars all over the classroom. Then cut out the smaller pictures from the back of the calendar and add velcro dots to each. The child can carry around the smaller pictures to match to the bigger pictures throughout the classroom.
A number to quantity scavenger hunt is also fun for little ones who have just mastered their numbers! Lay out the sandpaper numbers on a work rug, then carry a basket over to a work shelf and count that number of objects into the basket.
And of course you can also do this with shapes or the geometric solids!
I’ve seen a lot of people do scavenger hunts with words they’ve taped around the room, but I like to do something I call labeling the room works to incorporate movement:
Labeling the room with beginning sounds is a great early literacy activity for the child who has mastered the sandpaper letters. Write each beginning sound on a post-it note or something sticky (I use these return address labels cut in half), then let the child stick them onto objects around the room that begin with those sounds.
Pre-readers can do the same thing with pictures of objects around the classroom, like with these Labeling the Room with Pictures Cards.
Once the child is beginning to build words with the movable alphabet, labeling the room with it can be way more fun that just building words on a work rug.
Then you can move on to labeling the room with noun cards…
…and then adjectives!
And don’t forget that many of the original Montessori materials actually include full body movement as a major part of the lesson!
Montessori materials like the pink tower, the red rods, and the brown stair require so much movement! First the child needs to carefully carry each piece one at a time to the work rug. Then she needs to put the materials together. Finally, she needs to return each piece one at a time to its place on the shelf. That’s a lot of movement!
You can also find a lot of opportunities for full body movement in the practical life care of the environment section! Table washing, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping — these all require full body movement while helping to keep the environment neat and tidy.
Other Montessori lessons like command cards, easel painting, and any math work with the golden beads requires similar movement to complete the work, so these are other places to redirect a child who needs to move!
If you’d like more information about any of these materials, check these links: