The Silence Game was always one of my favorite activities as a Montessori teacher. It’s a Montessori game that’s wonderful to use as a regular activity in a classroom or homeschool. The Silence Game helps children develop both self-discipline and an awareness of the sounds around them.
While the Silence Game is traditionally an important activity in a Montessori classroom, it can be used in many environments. In my dissertation for my M.A. in Early Childhood Studies, I used the Silence Game as part of a study to see if Montessori education would be effective in a traditional nursery setting. I was excited to watch the children increase their ability for self-discipline through the game in a short time.
Following are links to some lovely posts telling about the Silence Game:
Montessori Silence Game
To learn the origin of the game, read Maria Montessori’s words along with ideas for playing the game in a post at Montessori Print Shop: The Montessori Silence Game.
Here are more of Maria Montessori’s words about the initial development of the Silence Game from The Secret of Childhood:
“One day I had the idea of using silence to test the children’s keenness of hearing, so I thought of calling them by name, in a low whisper, from a certain distance, as is the custom in certain medical tests. The child called was to come up to me, walking so as not to make a sound. With forty children this exercise in patient waiting demanded a patience that I thought impossible, so I brought with me some sweets as a reward for each child who came to me. But the children refused the sweets. They seemed to say, “Don’t spoil our lovely experience, we are still filled with delight of the spirit, don’t distract us.” And so I realised that children were sensible not only to silence but to a voice calling imperceptibly in silence. They came up slowly, walking on tip-toe, taking care not to knock into things, and their footsteps could scarcely be heard.”
Montessori Primary Guide has directions for presenting the Silence Game, announcing the game with a silence board (a sign with the word “silence” on one side and a picture of a peaceful place on the other side): The Silence Game.
C-Joy on Squidoo tells of practicing the Silence Game each day at the end of line time: Montessori Silence Game.
Michelle Irinyi at North American Montessori Center tells of whispering the word, “Silence,” ringing a chime, or dimming the lights to start the game and uses the Silence Game “as a way of alerting children to listen to the world around them”: Montessori – The Silence Game.
Bree at North American Montessori Center has a three-part series with many variations of the Silence Game: Montessori Insights and Reflections of a Preschool Student’s First Year: The Silence Game.
Sasha from To the Lesson tells about the group Silence Game in her classroom (photo at the top of this post): Nurturing Quiet.
Marnie from Carrots Are Orange has a post on the silence game at preschool: Silence Activities in Preschool Classrooms.
If you’d like to read more about Maria Montessori’s thoughts about the Silence Game, here’s the link to an article by Maria Montessori in 1930: “About the Importance and the Nature of the Silence Game.”
Individual Silence Activities
In addition to the group Silence Game, Sasha from To the Lesson added a beautiful material to the classroom upon the suggestion of a child to create an individual silence game. To find out more about the book in the photo, check out the post by the book’s author at Montessori Mama: When I Make Silence by Jennifer Howard.
Lent starts tomorrow, and the Silence Game could be an especially meaningful activity for the season. The Montessori-based religious education program Catechesis of the Good Shepherd includes a prayer table in the children’s atrium (room prepared for the children) that could serve as an individual silence area for a church, religious school, or homeschool.
The prayer table in the photo was in an Episcopal church where I started a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program when my children were little. I changed the matting on the photo and the cloth on the table according to the liturgical season, so it would have been purple during Lent. I always included prayer cards along with the Bible, candle, and Good Shepherd figurine for the children.
I have a post with home prayer materials on a shelf with a placemat the color of the liturgical season: Fitting Montessori-Based Religious Education into Your Home. A Montessori-based silence activity at home could simply consist of materials on a placemat or tray on a shelf.
More posts with ideas for encouraging self-discipline and control:
I’d love to hear of any experiences you have with the Silence Game.
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