Diane M Bauso Special to The Citizen
“The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge.” — dr Maria Montessori
Sensorial learning is a teaching approach that stimulates the child’s senses. It allows the child to use their senses to explore and understand the world around them. We all know about the five senses, but did you know that in a Montessori classroom we focus on nine senses?
The sensorial area of a Montessori classroom contains materials that are specifically designed to support the development of the child’s brain through sensory exploration. Sensorial development is the foundation on which the child builds their own intelligence.
So, just what are these nine senses in Montessori? As so wonderfully described on reachformontessori.com, they are:
Tactile (touch): Maria Montessori believed that “What the hand does, the mind remembers.” Hands-on learning is a tenet of Montessori. Children in Montessori learning environments are encouraged to explore and manipulate the materials via touch. No Montessori material exists that does not include a tactile element.
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Baric (weight): Baric sense is the ability to tell the difference between the weights of various objects. Activities that encourage the development of this sense also introduce the concept to children that objects of the same size can have different weights.
Olfactory (smell): Being able to differentiate between smells is an important skill. Our olfactory sense can alert us to unpleasant or even dangerous situations. The sense of smell is also closely linked to emotion and memory.
Thermal (temperature): Thermal sense is the differentiation of temperatures. Refinement of temperature sensitivity is important for all children.
Kinesthetic (muscular): Montessori activities don’t start when a child picks up the materials from a table or mat. They start from the time a child walks to the basket of mats and unrolls one onto the floor. From that point, a child must then walk over to the shelf and carry the work material over to the mat. Certain activities require a child to make multiple trips to the shelf, carrying the material piece by piece, lengthwise with one hand at each end of the material, to the work area.
Gustatory (button): The gustatory sense is the ability to tell the difference between flavors. In Montessori classrooms, tasting activities are presented in ways that isolate the gustatory sense.
Stereognostic: Stereognostic sense is a tactile sense in the absence of other senses. It is the ability to perceive and recognize the form of an object in the absence of visual and auditory information, by using tactile information to provide cues from texture, size, spatial properties and temperature. Through refinement of the stereognostic sense, a child is able to form a mental picture of an object without seeing it. Many Montessori activities have extensions that involve a child being blindfolded or using the material behind their back.
Visual (sight): Visual activities work toward the development of visual discrimination and visual acuity. Size, length, width, shape and color discrimination (chromatic sense) are all refined through Montessori sensorial materials that isolate visual properties.
Auditory: Being able to differentiate one sound from another is an important skill. Learning language, intonation, music, etc. all rely on good listening skills and the ability to differentiate sounds and volumes. Hearing is one of our most important senses, as it’s the sense that stimulates our brains the most and connects us to the world around us.
dr Maria Montessori truly believed that our intelligence and knowledge of the world was directly linked to our senses. Sensorial work plays an important role in the development of the whole child and how they observe and interact with their environment. They were designed to boost the child’s perception, to help with reasoning and to appreciate beauty. But more than anything, they were designed to spark a love of learning.
Diane M. Bauso is Head of School for Creative Minds Montessori School, 169 Genesee St., Auburn. You can be reached at (315) 406-9495 or auburncmms.com.