300 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
This reading game proceeded in a marvellous way. The contentment of these poor children in possessing even for a little while such beautiful toys can be easily imagined.
But what was my amazement, when the children, having learned to understand the written cards, refused to take the toys! They explained that they did not wish to waste time in playing, and, with a species of insatiable desire, preferred to draw out and read the cards one after another!
I watched them, seeking to understand the secret of these souls, of whose greatness I had been so ignorant! As I stood in meditation among the eager children, the discovery that it was knowledge they loved, and not the silly game, filled me with wonder and made me think of the greatness of the human soul!
We therefore put away the toys, and set about making "hundreds of written slips, containing names of children, cities, and objects; and also of colours and qualities known through the sense exercises. We placed these slips in open boxes, which we left where the children could make free use of them. I expected that childish inconstancy would at least show itself in a tendency to pass from one box to another; but no, each child finished emptying the box under his hand before passing to another, being verily insatiable in the desire to read.
Coming into the school one day, I found that the directress had allowed the children to take the tables and chairs out upon the terrace, and was having school in the open air. A number of little ones were playing in the sun, while others were seated in a circle about the tables containing the sandpaper letters and the movable alphabet.
A little apart sat the directress, holding upon her lap