Monday, March 12, 2018

Part II of sensorial activities with our little ones.

"First the education of the senses, then the education of the intellect". M. Montessori

Mystery Bag Game

This one is a very popular activity in a Montessori primary classroom (ages 3-6). It is also called a Montessori stereognostic bag. The main goal is to train child’s senses and learning to “see” with our hands. To start the game, place a few familiar objects in the dark bag. Pull each object out, one at a time and name it to the child, then pass it to them to touch, feel, smell and even taste the object. For example, prepare a pencil, ball, spoon, metal key, and a tiny book.  Put all of the above in your mystery bag and present to your child the first object. Begin by saying, “I am going to show you this mystery bag. It has some objects (reach first for the pencil). This is a pencil. It is long and sharp at the end. You may touch it.” Describe each object with a few words. The older your child is, the more information you can provide to them, such as the material it is made of, where it is used, its color etc... After you introduce this game, your child can try to find different objects in the mystery bag with their hands, without looking into the bag. For more advanced children  you can just describe the object you want them to find without naming it. For example, “Could you please find for me a small object made out of metal? ( Answer: key)”. If possible, increase the number of objects up to ten and make sure they are different shapes and textures. It will be difficult to find a ball in the bag if you have a few round shaped toys there. 
The mystery bag is also a great activity for older children to build and practice deductive reasoning skills. They can ask different questions about the objects to try to narrow down the possibilities: Is it a soft object? Can I roll it? 
Additional bag objects: large ring, small bottle, pine cone, cotton ball, any geometric solid, a doll, rock, small stick, a piece of aluminum foil etc. An Amazon small size gift wrap bag will make a great mystery bag to hold your objects. 


Coin Games

An opportunity to refine motor skills with children... To begin, set aside several real coins.. Then wash them with your child, and find a basket or container where you will hold them. Bury the coins in rice and let your child find them. Afterwards, try stacking pennies on top of quarters. Later try  rolling the different sized coins., With your older children sort the coins on separate plates, learn the names and values of the coins. Lastly, print the coin images on sheets of paper and have your child match and correlate the coins to the corresponding images.

Finger Painting

There is a lot of research that recommends finger painting for a child’s development. Finger painting strengthens hand muscles and teaches how to mix colors. Another benefit is that it helps our children focus on the process of painting itself and not on any specific finished product. Likewise, it is relaxing and involves all the senses. Children can discover informally many art lessons and learn colors; however, the most exciting benefit of finger painting is that it brings so much fun and joy to the children!
As a suggestion it is best to paint outside on a  large piece of paper, providing a minimum of  instructions for the  child to ensure they are the ones doing the drawing. Begin with only primary colors. if your child is under twelve months of age, you can use yogurt instead of paint and add a food coloring dye. While outside allow for children to collect random objects to add to their art inspiration.
Some children do not like to get messy and may not enjoy finger painting (like my kids) so offer them a paint brush. Also, consider using water based paint which is mess free and allows you to leave the child for a few minutes to explore independently without them staining their surrounding environment.

There are other sensorial activities you can prepare for your child’s enjoyment. In my previous article I mentioned  smelling bottles, sound bells, grain work, pouring and transferring water. Also, you can have on your sensorial shelves playdough, building blocks, themed stickers, color matching objects, light and heavy objects for sorting, Russian dolls, tangrams games, and more.. Being out in the garden or lawn area is another fantastic sensorial learning experience where children are free to dig, feel, sense and smell their surroundings.

Children are particularly receptive to developing their senses from ages two to six, so try to introduce as many sensorial opportunities as you can.

Have exploring and trying new activities with your little ones :).

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