What is Montessori Sensorial Education?
Montessori Sensorial Education is a methodology with specific learning tools and extensions that refine the five senses.
“There is nothing in the intellect which was not first in some way in the senses” – Maria Montessori.
Children learn about the world around them and their own relationship with it through their five senses and their motor skills. The young child wants to see and moves around to explore, puts everything in his mouth to taste, he grabs, rattles and throws things to find out how those noises and sounds are made.
The child has an innate need and extra sensitiveness to learn and understand these at specific periods in his life. Montessori calls it the Sensitive Periods.
In a typical Montessori class room you may see a set of ten Red Rods ( from 10 cm – 100 cm in sizes ) , a set of Pink Cubes ( 1 cm- 10 cm in sizes). There are Sound cylinders where the child explores the different kind of sound and match them or grades them from the loudest to the softest one.
The precision of these tools, the methodology of using them or introducing them to the individual children have enormous depth that may not be available to the non Montessori trained parent or teacher. Yet, it is possible to give the child some exposure and extensions of these tools in their formative years.
Why should you care:
Sensorial education is the foundation for all education. It is extremely important in the pre- reading, pre writing stage in a child’s life. All these exercises are the building blocks for the future scientist, engineer, artist, music composer or culinary expert our children may become.
How can you implement it in your home environment:
Let us focus on the discrimination of sizes. Let us gather various tuna cans of the same shape but different sizes, like 2oz, 6 oz, 12 oz. Take it to the sand box and introduce the concept of big, bigger, biggest. This can be done with empty yogurt tubs too where the shapes are same the sizes vary.
A story time with Goldilocks and the Three Bears may be quite appropriate.
Give the child some beautiful beads, same color, same shape but different sizes. For example we may choose some Czech glass bead cubes – some 2mm, 4mm, 6mm, 8mm in sizes. Let the child sort them according to the sizes. Handling the beautiful beads will expose him to the delicate difference in sizes.
Gather six cylinders with lids. These could be old film cannisters or medicine tubes. They should be opaque and exactly similar in looks.
Make two sets . Color three lids red and three blue, or you may put two kinds of stickers on the lids to differentiate. Put a large pebble in one red cylinder and another one pebble in a blue. So these make a pair.
Now make another pair putting some lentils in them. The sound this pair of cylinders will make will be different from the previous pair. The last pair of cylinders should contain a tea spoon of salt in eachj. This pair will make the softest sound.
Now the child can match the loudest red cylinder with the loudest blue one and so on. She can also grade them. To make it more challenging you may add more variation if you find your child is interested in this home made toy.
You can make smelling jars. Gather six jars that look exactly similar. Put a cotton ball dipped with vanilla extract, another with orange essence, another with lemon and so on. Let the child match the similar smelling jars. You may do it with spices too. The only thing we must note that we want to focus on one thing at a time. We don’t want to give visual cue when our main aim is to sharpen the olfactory sense.
Similarly if we put pebbles in see through plastic bottles it does not really refine auditory skill.
Similarly you may provide the child various tactile experiences. One fun exercise is have various object with a pair. For example you may give two keys, two marbles, two small lids and so on. Cover them with a scarf. Now pick up one and keep out side. The job is to feel through all the objects and take the corresponding pair. Children love when they are hidden in a bucket full of beans or lentils.
Hope you’ll come up with more extensions that can easily be done at home and have fun with your children.
Montessori,M (1967) . The absorbent mind. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Montessori M. (1963). What you should know about your child. Wheaton,iii.: Theosophical Press
Sensorial Education Montessori