We mailed our Arizona postcards to the other schools / home-classrooms from the 50 State postcard exchange we participated in. That’s been a wonderful experience, I plan on joining many more in the future! I put the postcards that we received into a basket on our Geography shelf for the children to use. It’s become a tradition at our school for children to bring back a postcard from wherever they visit, so we can talk about it. Those postcards were added to the basket as well, so they made a Reading Matching game out of the multiple cards from the same state. Some children took the postcards and found each state’s location on our large map of the United States.
This past weekend in my Montessori Training class, we discussed Peace Curriculum, and the idea of a Peace Table, and a Peace Rose. I LOVE the concept of both the Peace Table and the Peace Rose, and definitely plan to use those ideas in my own classroom someday.
Peace Education is something that is very important to teach young ones. It’s a difficult concept to teach as Peace has many forms, but by leading by example the concept should be easily attained. Lately I’ve been trying to think of different ways to say things to children, so that my words are kinder. Looking for the positive when a child pours food-colored water all over themselves and the furniture can be difficult, but it really makes a difference in the child’s future interactions.
Lately during our afternoon line time, the children were very rambunctious when putting their work away and coming to sit down. I decided to try one example of Peace Education, and sit quietly amongst them until they quieted down. Normally I would have raised my voice and asked them to get quiet, and then have to deal with a few minor behavioral issues as we continued to sit there. However as I sat there quietly, they one by one started to notice me not speaking, and not making eye contact at all. I glanced at my watch occasionally to see how much time had passed. I had several children ask me questions, or come up to me to tattle on someone bothering them. It was SO SO SO tempting to respond to them, but I remained quiet. After 9 minutes of loud ruckus the classroom fell completely silent. After a few seconds of silence I started whispering very quietly how pleased I was that they decided to join me on the line quietly. I talked a little bit about respect, and how by observing quietly the classroom got much quieter than if we had demanded quiet.
The next day I wanted to see if they had remembered, so I sat quietly before they were told it was time to clean up. Without mentioning anything, a few children put their work away and came and sat silently next to me. One of the afternoon Assistants went around and quietly whispered to each child it was time to clean up. It was enchanting how quiet the classroom got as each child quietly put their work away and sat peacefully. It was as if the children understood an unspoken rule about the Peace around us in the classroom and were entranced by it as well. We sat for a few minutes in complete silence instead of having a group discussion or a book read, as everyone was enjoying the Peace. I learned so many things from them during this! Even our noisiest children were completely content sitting silently. I know the Silence Game is something Maria Montessori loved, but I hadn’t really ever seen it’s beauty until that moment. No one in the room wanted to be the one to break the silence: even I was reluctant to do so, but it was time for the regular school-day to end and for after-care to begin. I can’t wait to try it again, I just don’t want to do it too soon so they lose interest in it!
Getting back to the Peace Table and the Peace Rose – I’d like to know more about what sort of set-up others have out there… What do you include in your Peace Table? How do you demonstrate to your own children how to use the Peace Rose? Have you noticed improvements in peer to peer relationships? I haven’t seen it in practice and would love any ideas you all have!