Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Presenting the Montessori cylinder blocks in the primary classroom (Ages 3-6)

The guide begins by taking out the extremes of each. Every sensorial activity materializes one quality. The teach the visual discrimination of dimension. Which block should I use for the first presentation? Start with block 2. This is a pairing activity of fixed, complimentary pairs. 

We noticed all the steps of the invitation, mentioning the name of the material, checking that there will be a place for the material, getting the materials, taking out the cylinders randomly to create disorder, then putting them all over the table. Then Uma invited the child to complete the activity. Tip: Leave the tiny one out, because they will want to do that one.

Analyze the movements to show the pincer grip and the analysis of movement to set it down without any sound, bring precision into the work.

Once all the cylinders are out, study the dimensions of each one, the height, breadth, and width. Make it evident that you are looking into the sockets. Make a more specific comparison. In one movement, position the cylinder precisely into the socket, with no sound.

The control of error is in the material fitting. The wrong hypothesis gives feedback regarding the material. If the child makes the mistake of putting too small a cylinder into too large a hole, the child is forced back to return and fix it. (Occasionally, children will try to get rid of one that does not fit, because they are sure it doesn't belong!)

Once the child has received the presentation on one set of cylinder blocks, then they can work with any. This tool immediately deals with depth perception, as a later developing skill for most children. The block is right next to the child, and the cylinders are away from the child, to encourage her to peer into the socket. It is better to do this on a table rather than on a rug so that they can see the materials standing. Any objects have three dimensions and may differ in those three dimensions.

Direct Aim: Visual discrimination of dimension, to determine which sockets have same dimension. Sensitive period for sensory refinement.

Indirect Aim: Preparation for writing, based on the size of the knob and how you hold the cylinder with necessary and sufficient firmness. There is feedback regarding the force from the weight of the cylinder, preparing the hand for the writing instrument. It continues a refinement of voluntary movements, when the cylinder is dropped in one intentional movement.

Begin this lesson around three years old, but look for signs of readiness.

Begin with block one. The differ in two dimensions, but the small piece will not fall all the way into the hole. It is easier for a three year old to begin, with a level of precision. Observe the mechanical control of error. 

As the children get good at it, they may begin to lose interest. The guide can introduce a game where an indicator stick is dropped into the hole and find the cylinder that goes there. It is also a pairing activity, but we call it reverse pairing. Rather than matching a cylinder to a socket, we match a socket to a cylinder.



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