Thursday, October 25, 2012

Virtue in Focus: Gentleness

This is the fourth post in my series "Virtues in Focus."
Click here to read the rest.

What does being gentle mean? “We Choose Virtues” sums it up well for us: being gentle means speaking quietly and touching softly. We should be gentle with our mouth and our hands.

While I find my children’s squeals, occasional screams, and regular roughhousing important ingredients of a happy childhood, it is still best to guide them and make them understand about being gentle towards each other and other people. Understanding the need to be gentle is part of their social and emotional development.

In our week focused on gentleness, we did some activities and read a few books. I hope the following can help you too on your path to acquiring this virtue.

Music and Movement Games

Music was an obvious choice for us to demonstrate soft and loud. Kindermusik classes promote sound discrimination right from Village (the one for newborn to one and a half year olds) and encourage families to continue the learning at home with the home materials. 

  • We practiced playing softly and LOUDLY with our drums and egg shakers
  • We took turns calling out the way to play with our instruments
  • We played with our mini-cymbals while marching up and down. Little’s T current favorite phrase, which comes from a Cherub Wings video, provides a wonderful example for soft and loud sound: “Praise the Lord with booming cymbals: BOOOOOM!” Ouch in BOOOOOM! 
  • We moved to music, depending on what it was “telling” us to do. Our favorite is this song from Little Sir’s Milk and Cookies CD. We sway in the slow and quiet parts, and we bounce in the bouncy parts.

Soft and Loud Voices

We practiced using our soft and loud voices by talking with:
  • our regular voices,
  • whispering, and then
  • almost-shouting.
We talked about when to use each voice, and why. Regular voices are for talking to each other, whispering is for when somebody is asleep or resting, and “almost-shouting” or okay, just plain shouting, when there is an emergency and you need to call somebody’s attention.

Touching Gently

Little T thinks her baby brother is “the cutest baby in the whole world!” She can’t stop pinching or squeezing him. It bothers the grown-ups, but doesn’t seem to faze Little Sir. I think he even likes it and asks his sister, “again?”

To demonstrate touching gently - to appease myself that I’m at least protecting my baby, ha! - we played with some of our stuffed toys and took turns patting them. When we did this though, I forgot to bring out the classic baby book “Pat the Bunny” by Dorothy Kunhardt. It is an interactive book that asks children to touch and feel parts of the book. 


"The Little Rabbit" by Judy Dunn and Phoebe Dunn is a "Before Five in a Row" book. It's about Sarah  and her pet rabbit Buttercup. 

 "Play with Me" by Marie Hall Ets is another "Before Five in a Row" book that we enjoyed reading together. It's about a girl who wants to play with the different animals around a pond, but is frustrated when they all run away from her. At the end, she realizes that the secret to making the animals come near her is to be still, to be gentle in her movements.
"Be Gentle!" is one of the stories about the cub Bartholomew by Virginia Miller. It is a lively series that we enjoyed when Little T was a toddler and that we are now re-reading for Little Sir. This particular story is also about taking care of a pet. 

Books about pets are generally great for talking about being gentle not only to animals but to people as well. I'm hoping to find more books that tackle gentleness, so I hope you'll let me know if you've read one!

Make magic!

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TrulyRichMom/TeacherMamaTina said...

The kids love the "Praise the Lord with booming cymbals!" part, too! They had so much fun praising booming their cymbals last night! Haha! :)

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

So cute! But the BOOM! can really hurt the ears!