A while back we talked about the stereognostic sense. (See previous post titled: Geometric Solids) This is when we can recognize something by the movement of the muscles in our hand. We use this sense when feeling the geometric solids and many of the other Montessori works. The Mystery Bags is another way for children (and adults when working with the children) to increase this sense.
Two people sit at at table. Both have bags full of matching solid objects.
One person pulls out an object and shows it to the other person. That person then has to reach in their bag and pull out the matching object. NO PEEKING!
It can take a while to feel for the object but they usually find it without assistance. The children love to play this game with a friend.
You can do this at home with matching objects, even using items such as: spoons, erasers, keys etc… Just make sure the items match in each bag and the child cannot see through the bags. This activity is for the hands only.
The purpose of Sensorial Education is in the education and refinement of the senses. Through this, Montessori felt the intellect would grow. “The training and sharpening of the senses has the obvious advantage of enlarging the the field of perception and of offering an ever more solid foundation for intellectual growth. The intellect builds up its store of practical ideas through contact with, and exploration of, its environment.” (Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, 1999, pg. 101) Dr. Montessori felt children learn most effectively by using their senses during the sensitive periods and the period of the conscious absorbent mind (3-6 years of age).
Here we have an example of the Smelling Bottles (part of the Sensorial training). There are two sets of identical aromas and the child smells one and attempts to match it via smell only. This strengthens the child’s olfactory sense and also increases interest and awareness in their environment.
The key is to make sure there is no other way to detect the material other than smell. We use a cotton ball as a way to prevent the child from seeing the coffee, cloves etc..
This week we began the study of our Geometric Solids which is another Montessori material. This is part of the Sensorial training. The particular sense trained with these materials is the stereognostic sense. About this sense, Montessori stated (Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, 2005, pp. 104-105), “Many psychologists have spoken of the stereognostic sense, that is the capacity of recognising forms by the movement of the muscles of the hand as it follows the outlines of solid objects. The sense does not only consist of the sense of touch, because the tactile sensation is only that by which we perceive the differences in quality of surfaces, rough or smooth. Perception of form comes from the combination of two sensations, tactile and muscular.” She went on to develop these geometric solids as a way for a child to get this muscular impression. We began with three solids: cone, cylinder and cube. Even our youngest could remember the names after we presented the solids.
“Little children, in fact, touch everything they see, thus obtaining a double image (visual and muscular) of the countless different objects which they encounter in their environment.” – Dr. Montessori (Discovery of the Child, 1988 pg. 119)
To increase comprehension, the children colored a small paper with the objects to take home.
The children were then able to match objects in the environment to pictures of the solids.
If you see objects in the environment with the shape of a cylinder, cone or cube, point it out to your child. They will enjoy transferring their knowledge learned in school to their own world.