The Silence Game In Nature – Empowering Children with Mindfulness
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Many of us probably didn’t know how precious moments of silence are 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, aggression.
Being able to create silence is valuable skill children need to retain in order 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)
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”.
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:
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.
“Silence Board”. If a child feels that the noise level in the classroom is too high – he or she picks up “Silence Board” and lifts it up high for all to see. The rest of the children take is a sign to quiet down.
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).
It is astonishing the level of stress children can experience these days. I cultivate in my child habit of spending time being mindful – appreciate the moment and being able to observe the world around me.
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.
Materials: Silence Board and Sand timer (3 minute one)
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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 are 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.
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.
Must-Read Books About Nature Learning and Living
Exploring Nature - Children's Books and Learning Resources
Major Biomes of the World is a set of 3-part cards, information posters, and worksheets for students to learn about the major biomes of the world. It includes a map, 3-part card activities, descriptions, follow-up coloring, handwriting, and sorting activities.
Three-part cards and sorting activity with three major groups of rocks – Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic. Rocks are often a great point of interest for lower elementary students. It is easily translated into a hands-on experience for children who enjoy looking up various types of rocks and learning their origin and proper name pronunciation.
Seasons in Nature Printable contains: 4 work mats for sorting 24 picture cards for sorting (6 for each of the seasons) Sun and Earth rotation poster to place in the middle British and American versions
The printable features photos of birds and eggs. Each card set comes with a photo of a bird + a label, a label card, and a photo card of eggs including a picture of the bird that laid them. This makes it easier for children to connect the right picture of eggs to the right bird without assistance.
From a fragile and beautiful bird egg to a glittering meteorite from space, discover more than 100 intriguing natural objects with fascinating tales to tell in this beautifully illustrated wildlife book for children. This unique nature reference book has a fun, new approach that teaches children about nature through objects. It includes: • More than 100 amazing objects that you can find in nature made by geological processes, or by plants and animals. • Four chapters: Animals; Plants, Fungi and Algae; Minerals and Rocks; and Made by Nature. • Illustrated diagrams that support understanding. • Large, detailed photographs of truly fascinating objects. • Eye-catching jacket finishes: gold foil, holographic foil and metallic gold edges.
NATURE JOURNAL: Exploring nature with children through fun journaling. These activity books were created by parents who found a way to guide kids to discover and observe the outdoors with simple drawing and sketching. When given a purpose and excitement for finding plants, animals, and landmarks, your kids will enjoy learning to draw on this illustrative workbook in their own backyard.
by Editors of Storey Publishing (Author)
Jump-start curiosity with this take-along field guide for children ages 4 to 8. From worms, birds, and spiders to trees, flowers, and clouds, young explorers learn what to look and listen for wherever they are — whether in a nature preserve, an urban park, or a suburban backyard. Seek-and-find lists, on-the-trail art projects, and discovery games get kids engaged in hands-on learning about nature, and a real pull-out magnifying glass helps them get a close-up glimpse of leaf veins, seed pods, and tiny insects. Filled with activities, checklists, and stickers, this interactive nature guide belongs in every kid’s backpack.
See the world in a whole new way! Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman combines art and science in this exciting and educational guide to the structure, function, and personality of the natural world. Explore the anatomy of a jellyfish, the inside of a volcano, monarch butterfly migration, how sunsets work, and much more. Rothman’s whimsical illustrations are paired with interactive activities that encourage curiosity and inspire you to look more closely at the world all around you.
From the smallest speck of sand to the stars that blanket the sky, nature is full of incredible things to explore. Inspire little ones to learn about the world they live in with this colorful and imaginative choice in nature books for kids. It’s packed with fascinating info and full-page photos that teach children about the weather, seasons, plants, animals, and more.
Kids are full of big questions like “What makes plants grow?” or “Why does the moon change shape in the sky?”. Awesome Outdoor Experiments for Kids can help them find the answers! It’s a treasure trove of outdoor adventures, with more than 50 fun experiments that show kids science in action as they play outside.
When words in verse are paired with the awesomeness of nature, something magical happens! Beloved former U.S. Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis curates an exuberant poetic celebration of the natural world in this stellar collection of nature poems. From trickling streams to deafening thrunderstorms to soaring mountains, discover majestic photography perfectly paired with contemporary (such as Billy Collins), classics (such as Robert Frost), and never-before-published works.
Girls can do anything, and Adventure Girls! proves it! Packed with exciting activities and crafts for girls (ages 6 to 12), this book inspires young adventurers to be curious, innovative, and bold. From stargazing and animal tracking to making a pinhole camera and building a shadow theater, Adventure Girls! is not one of your typical craft books.
Crawl into the wonderful world of bugs—a fun photographic adventure for kids ages 3 to 5 Take your child on an educational adventure bursting with the kinds of colorful photographs you need in bug books for kids. The Backyard Bug Book for Kids has everything you’d want in bug books for kids: a story, pictures, and activities combined. Introduce your little one to the types of bugs they’re likely to see during their day, then help them remember what they’ve learned with fun, on-the-page challenges.
by Fiona Cohen (Author), Marni Fylling (Illustrator)
Filled with fun facts and 100 full-color, beautiful, and scientifically accurate illustrations, this nature guide will inspire kids to go outdoors and discover the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest. Did you know that baby raccoons are smaller than a bar of soap? Or that salmon smell using little pits in the front of their eyes? Curious Kids Nature Guide is filled with full-color illustrations and fun facts about the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest, encouraging kids to discover and explore nature in their own backyards and beyond.
Immersed in the natural world, The Organic Artist for Kids inspires creativity by connecting kids and their adults to our wilderness roots. In addition to offering a wide variety of fun, collaborative projects using nature as a source for art supplies and inspiration, this book also introduces the concepts of awareness and perception that are fundamental to the creative process.
In the era of screens and devices, the average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors, and children are no exception. Not only does this phenomenon have consequences for kids’ physical and mental health, it jeopardizes their ability to understand and engage with anything beyond the built environment.
Wild creatures, cloud formations, plant habitats, and more―nature is full of wonders to behold and explore! In this nature journal, young naturalists will get all of the guidance they need to study and record their experiences of the natural world.
Clare Walker Leslie shows kids how to experience nature with all five senses, whether they live in the countryside, a major city, or somewhere in between. Guiding children through inspiring activities like sketching wildlife, observing constellations, collecting leaves, keeping a weather journal, and watching bird migrations, The Nature Connection encourages kids to engage with the world outside and promotes a lifelong love of nature.
From the author of the bestselling book 50 Things to See with a Small Telescope, this colorful edition explores the constellations with young readers, guiding them to dozens of galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. Every page features a helpful “telescope view”, showing exactly how objects appear through a small telescope or binoculars.
Get ready to explore the sky above, the ground below, and all the plants and creatures in between! Made just for kids, this nature anatomy book teaches you about the incredible forces and living things that exist in nature.
by Pamela Hickman (Author), Carolyn Gavin (Illustrator)
Balancing child-friendly facts with colorful illustrations, this perfect introduction to plants is sure to inspire the budding naturalist in every child. From crowded cities to open prairies, deserts to wetlands, plants grow everywhere! This comprehensive introduction will open children's eyes to the plants that surround them every day and how important they are to life on our planet. It covers the basics of plants, such as their parts, life cycles and growing zones.
The birds, the bees, the flowers and the…TREES! How do trees grow? Why do leaves change? What kind of tree is that? The acclaimed Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s guide answers all kids’ (and their parents’) tree-related questions in an easy-to-understand way. It features 33 different trees that grow in North America, from rural Georgia to the streets of New York City to the California suburbs.
Anyone can get lost while camping or on a hike and Survivor Kid teaches young adventurers the survival skills they need if they ever find themselves lost or in a dangerous situation in the wild. Written by a search and rescue professional and lifelong camper, it’s filled with safe and practical advice on building shelters and fires, signaling for help, finding water and food, dealing with dangerous animals, learning how to navigate, and avoiding injuries in the wilderness.
by Mrs. Peanuckle (Author), Jessie Ford (Illustrator)
With playful text, bright illustrations, and sturdy pages, Mrs. Peanuckle's alphabet books will engage toddlers, and take them on an alphabet adventure through the natural world! Explore the wondrous world of hiking while learning the ABCs with Mrs. Peanuckle! Mrs. Peanuckle takes on the outdoors and shares all her favorite animals, plants, and more in her latest tour of the ABCs!