The Silence Game In Nature – Empowering Children with Mindfulness

Many of us probably didn’t know how precious moments of silence were until we became parents or teachers. We all can agree that our world lacks silence today more than ever before.  The noise we create is not necessarily produced by loud sounds. Noise can be made by clutter, unnecessary overload of visual and sensory information, and stimulation. Noise takes away focus from what truly matters and distracts attention. Children react to overstimulation in their own way – through emotional outbursts, frustration, and aggression.

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Being able to create silence is a valuable skill children need to retain to develop strong mental health. According to this article, silence can literally grow a person’s brain.

“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system…. “Silence is a resource”.. . It could be marketed just like clean water or wild mushrooms. “In the future, people will be prepared to pay for the experience of silence…Two-minute silent pauses proved far more relaxing than either “relaxing” music or a longer silence played before the experiment started.   ”  (Source via nautil.us)

The benefits of silence are truly appreciated and valued in a Montessori environment. The Silence Game – a creation of Maria Montessori. She stated: “Children are not only sensitive to silence but also to a voice which calls them … Out of that silence”.

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The Silence Game is a way to cultivate mindfulness in children through an ability to gain awareness of the noise surrounding them and exercise self-control. In the Montessori classroom, children are shown how to “create” silence.

There are a couple of interpretations of the Silence Game I have done in my classroom:

  1. In a large group, children take turns sharing their thoughts on what silence feels, looks, and sounds like.  After that, we talk about the silence board – a board with the word “silence” written on it and a picture of a tranquil place in nature. Then children practice “making silence”. We turn off lights and sit in a group listening to sounds around “creating silence”. Once children start getting restless – a teacher sits on the other side of the room and starts whispering children’s names one at a time. When the child hears their name, they get up and walk quietly to sit next to the teacher.
  2. “Silence Board”. If a child feels that the noise level in the classroom is too high – he or she picks up the “Silence Board” and lifts it up high for all to see. The rest of the children take it as a sign to quiet down.
  3. Individual activity. A child at any time can take a silence board off the shelf along with a sand clock. He or she places it on a mat on the floor and sits in silence while watching sand grains fall through.

Mindfulness is being born out of moments spent in a quiet atmosphere of silence.

Mindfulness –  the quality or state of being mindful (aware of something that may be important).

Astonishingly, the level of stress children can experience these days. I cultivate in my child the habit of spending time being mindful – appreciating the moment and being able to observe the world around me.

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Since our family is devoted to the Christian faith, practicing mindfulness also helps to reflect on the Bible and the essence of God through personal perception and understanding.

As a part of our preschool homeschooling, we take the Montessori classroom outdoors once a week. This week’s activity – The Silence Game In Nature.

Materials: Silence Board and Sand timer (3 minutes)

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We found a quiet natural outdoor setting that was perfect for sitting quietly without getting distracted. I invited the child to look around and tell me what she could see, hear, and feel.

Then I said that we were going to sit without making a sound and listen to sounds around for as long as it takes all sand grains to drop from the top to the bottom. I encouraged her to think of something that helps her feel “happy“. After 3 minutes I asked her if she would like to whisper things that make her happy. Here is what I heard: smiles, hugs, kisses, and cuddles.

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It was a beautiful exercise and worked out better than I expected. Learning to be in the moment, appreciate what we’ve got, and reflect on feelings – all this takes a big deal of concentration and body awareness from a young child.

you might find these printables helpful in your classroom

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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