I recently had the opportunity to co-present at the 2017 American Montessori Society conference. Our presentation was titled “Creative Movement for Toddlers” and featured various ways to incorporate more movement opportunities into the classroom environment. A great deal of research published in recent years indicates that physical activity has many positive benefits in a child’s learning, improving attention and executive functioning skills. It was clear that our topic struck a chord as approximately 200 fellow teachers attended the workshop!
Part of our presentation featured some new and novel approaches to a common movement work known as the “lug-a-jug.” Typically, the lug-a-jug consists of three clear bottles, each filled with a different color of water. In addition, there are usually fixed placement markers in the classroom, such as circles attached to the floor that color-correspond to the jugs. The children carry the jugs to the corresponding markers. This work benefits children as they build muscle tone, develop gross motor skills, and exercise cognitive skills.
When I have used this approach in the past, I observed that the children quickly lost interest in the work. I decided to see what would happen if the placement points were “mobile.” Initially, I reasoned that I would set out the placement markers in various locations throughout the week. Before I had the chance to do so, the children took initiative and incorporated this step into their work with the lug-a-jug! By placing the markers themselves, students provided themselves with even more opportunities for movement! It was so interesting to observe how quickly and accurately the children recalled where they put the placement markers. This minor adaptation considerably enhanced the children’s interest level in the work as well as their likelihood to repeat the work.
We also presented a few other takes on the lug-a-jug. One version included jugs filled with natural elements, such as beach sand, shells, rocks and corresponding pictures of the elements.
Another featured size gradation with placement markers that correspond to the diameters of the jugs.
To read more about NMS teachers’ presentations at the 2017 AMS Conference, click here. To learn more about the impacts of movement on cognitive performance, and how we integrate movement into the curriculum at NMS, read the article beginning on page 5 of our Year in Review.