Tuesday, September 29

The Senses

The hand is the teacher, So the mind can learn, So the eye can see.

The sensorial materials in Montessori education are wonderful. They incorporate all of the senses and then some. To quote from a collections of papers I have from my training: "Children are taught to recognize similarities and contrasts between and among objects and entities- visually, auditorily, dimensionally, stereognostically, tactily, tastily, barically, and thermically." Montessori taught that from birth to age six the child is in a sensitive period for exploring with the senses. Also, from age 2-6 the child is in a sensitive period for the refining of the senses and has quite a fascination with the senses. To provide a little insight as to why the first Montessori year, and so many materials, are devoted to the development of the senses, we have to understand the importance of a sensitive period. Montessori taught that a sensitive period is a transitory, and somewhat brief, period of time that a child has an unconscious need and overpowering force and interest in a specific aspect. This need and focus doesn't lead to fatigue or boredom, but to a greater interest and finally to a state of consciousness and fulfillment. Montessori also taught that a sensitive period can never be regained once passed, and is somewhat like a window of time that closes whether used or not. So, yes, activities involving the senses are so important!

Here are just two example from our Montessori time today in which we used and developed the senses. The Touch Tablets (made from different grades of sandpaper) are an early Montessori activity. The introduction to this begins with the youngest children touching the Rough and Smooth board. Next, the child feels different grades of sandpaper. Lastly, the child matches grades of sandpaper while blindfolded. The use of the blindfold not only entertains the child (my daughter loves it) but helps to isolate the sense being used, which helps provide a greater impression.

This activity can be played alone or with another person. The tablet on the left stays in place while the right hand feels the other tablets for a match. The tablets are also very easy to make, requiring only sandpaper, a base and glue.

The stickers on the back are the same if the match is correct.

Another game we played on this day involved the bell and blindfold. One person sat blindfolded in the middle of the room, while the other person walked quietly to a spot and then rang the bell. The blindfolded person pointed to where they thought the bell ringer was and then took off the blindfold to see if they were correct. These types of games are so simple, but really enjoyed and fun. It doesn't take much to create a game using any of the senses!

I hope this post inspires you to provide a Sensorial activity. Just writing this has really renewed my appreciation of the materials. I am so grateful that Dr. Montessori had the wisdom to create these activities and the knowledge of its importance to share with us.


Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

Thank you for posting this - I'm excited to try these games with my son. Thank you too, for describing the "sensitive period". I have noticed my son (3 years old) loves any physical activity we do - they are simply fun to him and something he's very interested in. It can be anything from swinging and climbing to fitting paperclips onto cardstock to playing with lentils. Now I understand why and how important it is to give him more of these experiences. Thank you!

Jenna said...

Thanks for this one! I have trouble coming up with the ideas to stimulate the senses. PL is easy but everything else I struggle with!

Angela said...

I recently came across your blog--I think through the Crafty Crow--and think its wonderful. I've never looked into the Montessori schools, but after reading your information I think they sound great. My daughter (3) has always been very sensory. Loves touching and feeling things, these activities are just the kind of thing that I can easily do with her to stimulate her and still learn. Plus I love that a lot of the learning can be adapted for different ages (I also have a toddler), that way you can use the tools (which are usually things I have on hand anyways) over and over. Keep posting! I'll keep reading!

SmartPumpkin'sMom said...

I'd like to try it with my daughter. I learned about Montessori during my college years but I started reading more on my own a couple of years ago. I like a lot of things about Montessori education. I find the sensitive periods amazingly accurate(at least in our case).
Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

wow.. I think these are good!!! My son will love these games..


Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Thank you for such informative, inspiring thoughts. I haven't found such informative blog posts to help parents understand how to tap the potential of their kids. I think your post will help me do just that and I really want to begin with it, right away!

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