LIVABLE LEARNING - Preparing the Home and the Heart
Practical Life Materials Overview - MONTESSORI MADE EASY

"The senses are gateways to the intelligence. There is nothing in the intelligence which did not first pass through the senses."  ~  ARISTOTLE

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Purpose of the SENSORIAL Works

The Sensorial exercises help the child - through repetition - to discern differences and similarities. Emphasizing one sense at a time, qualities of the materials are simplified and isolated to allow ease in contrasting differences, comparing for similarities or grading sets of a series into a proper order. It begins with a hands on approach for the 3-6 year old child and lays a solid foundation for the mathematical mind, which will progress more effectively if concrete impressions are made before the abstract concepts are introduced.

CONTRASTS - Sensorial STEP ONE
The sensorial exercises begin with only a few materials representing the extremes of contrasting items, for example - the faintest and loudest sound boxes; the roughest and the smoothest tactile boards; the heaviest and the lightest baric tablets; the contrasting colors of red and yellow; the contrasting shapes of circle and square. More items are introduced as more are recognized.

IDENTITIES - Sensorial STEP TWO
Next by matching identical pairs of objects, the differences are made more clear as similarities are found among the contrasts. The matching pairs are mixed up and the similar items are brought together one at a time. For example: a red sound box is chosen, then the blue boxes are shaken one at a time until the matching sound is found.

GRADATIONS - Sensorial STEP THREE
A series of items is ordered according to gradual changes in dimension, color, or sensation. The objects are mixed up and then arranged side by side according to the system of gradations. For example:  the color tablets are arranged by individual color from lightest to darkest; the sound boxes are arranged from softest to loudest, the sensorial blocks are arranged according to dimensions that systematically decrease or increase by specifically ordered increments as small as one centimeter.

The Sensorial exercises lay the foundation for Geometry, the mathematical study of form and shape.

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The SIX Montessori Senses

VISUAL -
size, color
     * Block Sets
     * Cylinder Sets
     * Color Tablets

TACTILE -
texture (tactile)
temperature (thermic)
weight (baric)
     * Tactile Fabrics
     * Tactile Boards
     * Tactile Tablets
     * Thermic Bottles
     * Thermic Tablets
     * Baric Bottles
     * Baric Tablets

OLFACTORY - smell
     * Smelling Bottles

GUSTATORY - taste
     * Tasting Bottles

AUDITORY - sound
     * Sound Boxes
     * Montessori Bells

STEREOGNOSTIC - touch with movement
     * Mystery Bags
     * Practical Life Sorting Trays

The works of Montessori add to the traditional five senses a sixth sense called stereognostic. The word "stereognostic" comes from two Greek words: stereos for "solid" and gnosis for "knowledge" and it is the ability to recognize objects by the combined sense of touch and movement. The stereognostic sensorial Montessori exercises are first done with eyes open, but after practice shapes are recognized and sorted with eyes closed. The stereognostic sense gives the child "solid knowledge" to perceive and understand the size, form, shape, and nature of a solid object. Margaret Humphrey of Montessori World has an excellent online video lesson called Stereognostic Sense where she demonstrates stereognostic Sensorial-Practical Life tray set ups with sorting exercises. The edvid.com DVDs are also an excellent resource for Montessori Sensorial Demonstrations.

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