How (NOT) to unroll and roll a Montessori rug

There are many videos and articles out there demonstrating how to roll and unroll a Montessori rug. Since the main focus of this website is on elementary and upper elementary education, I was simply going to find a YouTube video and embed it. After watching a few demonstrations of the technique, I realized that the topic deserves a its own article.

I picked two extreme cases that I found on YouTube for you to compare. I wouldn’t recommend either of them if your goal is to follow the Montessori approach.

From extreme…

A directress in the video above is teaching children how to roll a rug but the presentation has nothing to do with the Montessori approach. As the video progresses, children get more and more excited because they are practicing chanting and rhythm; the rug becomes secondary. Talking of rugs, a rug with stripy pattern and a fringe is not the best choice for a work mat either.

One of the reasons to use a rug is to internally prepare for an activity that follows, therefore the unrolling needs to happen slowly and consciously. Rolling the rug marks an end of the activity.

Children have very active “mirror” neurons. They observe what people around them do, how they stand, how they speak and copy everything like an image in a mirror. That’s why “Do a I say, not as I do” never works. Ultimately, children will do what you do no matter what you say so there is no need to say anything.

The directress shouldn’t speak during demonstration that doesn’t require any further explanation. What she taught children is not to observe and focus, but quite a nice rhythmical chant.

To extreme…

Let’s have a look at an opposite extreme.

The directress in this video has a perfect body posture and she doesn’t speak. The main focus is on what she is doing.

What I find extreme is a pace at which she does the demonstration. I’m not a 3-year-old and have quite a bit of patience compared to most people, but I was struggling to concentrate the whole time. Do you really expect your child to roll a rug for a minute and then carry it as in a religious trance?

How to roll / unroll a Montessori rug?

The technique is not really important but keep these points in mind:

  • Maintain correct posture as you walk or kneel
  • Don’t talk during the demonstration
  • When carrying the rug, hold it with two hands because your child has smaller hands than you do
  • Put the rug down in a natural way, unroll it unhurriedly with full attention at a normal pace (or a little slower)
  • Pause for a little while when done to admire the job done
  • Continue with an activity on the rug…
  • … or roll the rug with full attention at a normal pace a put it away
How (NOT) to unroll and roll a Montessori rug

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