Silence Game or the Happy Game
The silence game is one of the first elements introduced to a Montessori classroom. Gradually basic manners are introduced along with this game. This helps with the normalization process. The silence game is difficult to do with a really “new class”. Children. who can play this game. have the ability to keep still for at least a short amount of time. It’s helpful if the children have done the control of movement exercises, such as closing a door quietly, lifting chairs quietly, washing tables without spilling water, walking the line, pouring exercises and so on.
Dr. Montessori invented this game when she was working with children who were partially deaf. She found that partially deaf children’s hearing was often improved when they learned to listen carefully to sounds.
She would stand at the back of the room and quietly would call the name of each child. The children would have to look forward and not read Dr. Montessori’s lips.
The children would quietly walk to Dr. Montessori when they heard their name.
She tried to reward the children with candy when they heard their name. It is interesting to note that the children were not interested in the reward; they were excited and happy just to do the silence game.
She experimented with this game in the Children’s House in Rome with a class of normal children age 5 and under. Finally, she reverted back to the way she had first done it.
Children love this game, they have a great sense of hearing!
Here is how you can play this game:
1. Instruct the children you are going to play a game, the silence game. It means you have to keep your body quiet and not talk. Ask children to play who can be really quiet.
2. When you hear your name being called, come and stand by the person calling you.
3. Stand behind the class when you softly call the children’s names or just outside of the classroom. The children aren’t supposed to look at you when you do this part.
4. Speak softly, but not in a whisper.
5. You’ll notice the children walk very quietly towards you; they are interested in not breaking the silence.
6. When you begin the game you will have to help the children “hear” noises they are not aware of, such as, shuffling of feet, heavy breathing, yawning, & fidgeting.
7. The children will understand that you can only call their names when they are very quiet.
8. Make sure you call every child’s name. You can call a few quiet children before you call the child who is having difficulty with the game. Calling everyone’s name encourages everyone to listen.
9. Make a note card with the word “Silence” written on it. The teacher or any child can hang it facing the classroom. (It’s like an “open” or “closed” sign on a shop door). The teacher begins the game.
10. The class needs to be calm to do this game. The Silence Game doesn’t work if the class is out of control.
Dr. Montessori believed that the silence game was like a religious experience for children. It is important not to break off the game abruptly. The end result is a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Everyone feels rested after the experience.