From the Mail Bag-April 23

Question:
“The senses are points of contact with the environment”
How does activity with the sensorial
material encourage observation and perception of the
environment?

Answer
Babies and toddlers have uncountable impressions of
their environment, including language. Sensorial
education refines these impressions into concrete
representations. For example, the natural or pink
tower shows dimensions, shapes, sizes and
gradation. After the exercise is mastered, you
introduce the names, big and small, short and tall,
heavy and light, and so on. This helps the child
understand language expressions in a concrete way.

Each of the sensorial activities attempts to refine
the senses, and narrows the use of the senses with the
material. For example, the sound boxes are helpful in
refining the sense of hearing. The rough and smooth
boards refine the sense of touch. With all the
sesenorial exercises, vocabulary is introduced after
the exercise is complete.
Here are a few examples of vocabulary:
Sound Boxes-loud, soft, softer, louder, loudest, etc. –
Rough and Smooth Boards– rough, smooth, rougher, smoother,
roughest, and smoothest-
This vocabulary helps refine the abstraction of
gradation.

Sensorial exercises prepare for both math and reading.
Since most of the towers and cylinders are degrees of
10, they introduce the concept of counting, less and
more, and big and small. The vocabulary is helpful for
reading readiness. The refinement of the senses helps
later with number and letter recognition because a
child can see differences in objects, and eventually
symbols.
This key of analyzing the sensorial material helps the
child observe the prepared environment in order to classify it.
Montessori takes into consideration the sensitive periods
and absorbent mind
of a preschool child in the prepared environment.
Montessori knew that young children are kinetic
learners, and that they learn by doing and using their
senses. An environment needs to provide hands on materials in order for
a child to develop normally.

Here is a link that may help about sensorial education verses sensory impressions.

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