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The senses are points of contact with the environment. How does activity with the sensorial materials encourage observation and perception of the environment?

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"The senses are points of contact with the environment." How does activity with the sensorial materials encourage observation and perception of the environment? The child in his mother's womb is a physical embryo; He develops his physical structures and increases in size while in the womb. Once he is born, leaving the comfort of his mother's womb, he must go through a phase of reconstruction or incarnation. He must become like his parents in movement, speech and other areas. To do this he does not possess fixed or predetermined instincts dictating his development like in animals who immediately behave like their parents once they are born. He possesses predetermined patterns of psychic unfolding. He gradually unfolds to exhibit the characteristic of his kind in movement, speech and actions. He is not taught by his parents to walk, talk or cry. He is not taught to sing, climb or think. "This fashioning of the human personality is a secret work of 'incarnation'. The child is an enigma. All that we know is that he has the highest potentialities, but we do not know what he will be. He must 'become incarnate' with the help of his own will." (The Secret of Childhood, Chapter 6, Pg. 32). The means by which he does this can only be described as spiritual hence he is described at this stage by the term "Spiritual Embryo''. Inasmuch as the child incarnates by a spiritual means, he still needs some aids to development. Nature has provided him with two internal aids; The Absorbent mind and Sensitive periods, while two external aids, a prepared environment and freedom are provided by the adult, usually a trained teacher. With his absorbent mind the child absorbs impressions and information from his environment. "Adults admire the environment; they can remember it and things about it; but the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul.


the child explores all the nine qualities of an object but in separate sessions and also with separate materials. She broke down the five basic senses into nine senses; Visual, Tactile, Olfactory, Gustatory, Auditory, Chromatic, Baric, Thermic and Stereognostic Sense. Sensorial education helps develop a child's intellect. Whether you believe intelligence is genetic or produced by environment, you can further it by education. Intelligence is built upon by experiences and thought processes. Sensorial impressions of child's environment are not the same as sensorial education. Impressions are feelings and not an intellectual building block. The human mind needs information to discriminate and appreciate its culture, art, music, poetry, reading and all aspects of the environment. Early sensorial educational material was provided by Dr. Montessori for this purpose. Young children like to explore, experiment, and try new things. They like to touch and feel and manipulate objects. They feed their minds through activities. They learn through their senses to satisfy their insatiable appetite for things to do. Montessori saw the importance of the manipulation of objects to aid the child in better understanding his environment. Through the child's work with Sensorial material, the child is helped to make abstractions, he is helped in making distinctions in his environment, and the child is given the knowledge not through word of mouth, but through his own experiences. Dr. Montessori designed her sensorial materials considering these facts. "Although the sense of touch is spread throughout the surface of the body, the Exercises given to the children are limited to the tips of the fingers, and particularly, to those of the right hand." (The Discovery of the Child). Her materials for the Sensorial work came from her own observations and from ideas and materials from the French doctors Itard and Seguin. Unlike the material used for Practical Life, this material has either never been seen or never been used by the child in his everyday life.


The thermic sense takes the tactile sense a step further and teaches the child to distinguish temperature. He determines hot and cold by holding metal bottles in his hand or by touching different kinds of stones and other materials. He grades them from hottest to cold or from cold to hot. Knowledge of the thermic sense protects the child from harm. It helps him to make judgement while stimulating his hands. The olfactory sense is interpreting the world through the nose by smelling. Children match different herbs or other smells in the smelling bottles. Eventually more abstract activities take place that match the scent to a picture. The gustatory sense is interpreting the world through the tongue by tasting. The child learns to distinguish between sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Tasting activities can be done in a group, as an individual work, or through food preparation activities. "Training in hearing of sounds must begin with silence as it departs from immobility to go on the perception of sounds and noises caused by movement". (The Discovery of the Child, Chapter 8, Pg. 136).The auditory sense is interpreting the world through the ears. In order to understand sound, children must first be introduced to silence. Then they can be introduced to matching and grading of the different sounds in the sound boxes. Games can be played in which the child is blindfolded and has to identify a person's voice, or from where in the room a sound is coming. This activity trains the child to listen more accurately and also develops his ability to concentrate. Sensorial education helps refine the senses so that the child can better appreciate the world around him. He learns different colours, sounds, tastes, textures, etc. The child who has worked with the sensorial materials has not only acquired a greater skill in the use of senses but also guides his exploration of the outside world. It makes him an observer and allows him to constructively categorise all that he encounters.

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