Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sensorial Area

The Sensorial Area is the Montessori classroom can be easily recognized with the classic, colorful, and precise materials.  Montessorians believe that it is during the ages of 0-6, children take in everything from their environment through their senses-visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste).  In a Montessori classroom, the Sensorial Area is meant to 'educate' the senses, that is to help children organize all they have taken in during the 0-6 time frame.  The Sensorial Area allows children to organize and classify information.  Through his senses, the child studies his environment and during their time in a Montessori classroom with access to the materials in the Sensorial area, he then begins to understand his environment.

Sensorial materials shown through lessons and presentations, were designed by Maria Montessori to provide experiences that are perceived by the senses:  size, shape, composition, texture, loud/soft sounds, matching, weight, temperature etc.  Children learn how to discriminate differences between same and different objects.  For example, The Pink Tower is meant to teach 'large' and 'small' and children are shown how to grade this work.  As they use the material with their hands, they begin to have an understanding of 'large' and 'small' and eventually understand that the smallest pink cute is 1 cubic centimeter in volume and the largest pink cute is 1000 cubic centimeters in volume (10 cm in length on one side).  With the colored knobless cylinders, the children are introduced to a different size aspect with each box.  The red box varies in width only.  The yellow box varies in height and width, the green varies in height and width, and the blue box has the same height, but vary in width.  They can manipulate these materials and even compare them with each other to learn these different attributes.

All the Sensorial materials were designed with these ideas in mind:

1.  The materials isolate one quality at a time, allowing the child to focus on one quality at a time.
2.  All materials have a 'control of error', meaning the child can make corrections themselves.
3.  All the materials are esthetically pleasing.
4.  All the materials must be complete so the child who is working with them can finish through the entire process without being interrupted to find a missing piece.
5.  These materials could be called 'materialized abstractions' which means that through these Sensorial materials, abstract concepts are made.
6.  The Sensorial Area is seen as preparation for the Math area-concepts learned in this area help support and encourage growth in the Math area.

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