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According to Dr. Maria Montessori, Education of the senses precedes the Education of the intellect.
It is necessary to begin the education of the senses in the formative period, if we wish to perfect this sensory development with the education which is to follow. The education of the senses should begun methodically in infancy, and should continue during the entire period of instruction which is to prepare the individual for life in society.
Montessori sensorial materials cater to the 5 senses: touch, see, smell, taste and hear. Materials like sound cylinders, fabric matching, smelling jars, tasting jars, rough and smooth boards etc cater to the different senses in an individual.
In addition to that, sensorial materials help “build the mathematical mind”. Most materials have ’10 pieces’ in them, in preparation for the Decimal system in Math.
Materials that teach and refine the sense of dimension like pink tower, red rods etc “teach only one concept”. For example, ‘pink tower’ is made of ’10 blocks , all of the same color pink, they teach the concept of big & small’. Colors is not introduced in this activity. Similarly, red rods are 10 pieces, all made of red, teaching concept of ‘long & short’. This feature is called “isolation of difficulty” and helps child master ‘one component of learning at a time” without being distracted or confused by a lot of things. This ensures child’s success.
Benefits of sensory materials are amazing, especially in early childhood. Studying and feeling texture is extremely important for a child to refine their motor skills. Knobbed cylinders, the 1st lesson introduced in Sensorial area helps strengthen the finger muscles required for writing or the pincer grasp.
Color box III refines the ability to grade colors from darkest to lightest, giving the child an artistic ability to differentiate shades of the same color.
Overall Sensorial materials help prepare the “Mathematical mind”, encourage imagination and creativity with building materials, improve vocabulary, prepare for writing, help create the artistic mind, teach concepts of geometry, refine all senses, help refine child’s motor skills etc.
Check montessorireflections_geetha for sensorial activities you can create with stuff found easily at home.