From the vantage point of a doctoral student in education leadership and policy, as well as a teacher at a public Montessori, I'm learning and sharing as I go. This is my space to explore the child's interior life, our discoveries as educators, and work of learning together.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
The Geometry Cabinet: Sensorial activities for pre-writing in the primary classroom (Ages 3-6)
The geometry cabinet
is composed of six drawers of shapes and the presentation tray. The
presentation tray has the triangle, circle, and square, but these will produce
the maximum contrast for children. This is why they are in the presentation
tray. The triangle can be made with the least number of sides. The base length
of these shapes is 10 cm.
The first drawer is
various circles, graded from 10 cm to 5 cm.
Drawer 2 contains
the rectilinear shapes.
Drawer 3 is various
triangles. There is a row of scalene triangles, with the sides different, and
isosceles triangles, having two equal sizes.
Drawer 4 is regular
Drawer 5 is
Drawer 6 is
As a materials note, the blue and yellow are used for high-contrast. We want the pairing to occur in the visual sense as well as the muscular sense.
The child will feel
the shape and the space before setting it in the space-- she traces the inset
and the frame. The child holds the peg with the non-dominant hand, to touch the
shape with the dominant hand. This activity is for the visual sense, but it also
stimulates the muscular and tactile senses to feel the shape. The touch is
directed by the two fingers which will later be active in the task of writing.
In this touch, it is light and never leaving contact with the edge. Perception
is aided by the muscular sense giving more information. Present with the whole
shape visible to the child.
The direct aim is
giving the child keys to the world of shapes. The nature of the activity is
pairing, in this case, complimentary pairs. The child who has been given the
tray with the presentation tray may now take any of these drawers to work with
them. They could take two drawers and work with them, or three, or even all six
if they are ready. At this point, they may want to take three small tables to
walk around and do this work. The cabinet itself always stays on the shelf. At
the point that the child wants to use a lot drawers, it only requires
organizational support. To add more complexity, they can do a reverse pairing,
or they could even complete these activities with the blindfold perhaps at the
age of 6.
As a control of error, the tactile sense will inform the child if they are no longer on the track and no longer touching the shape.
Do not introduce the
language for the words until we know that the perceptual categories for the
shapes are there.
The age of 3 or 3
1/2 is appropriate, because the child needs the refined coordination of
movement. This is not just a visual matching activity; it is a touching
activity. If the child is too old, they will not be interested in touching the
shape. A sophisticated degree of motor coordination is required for this task.
The indirect aim is
preparation for the study of geometry. Also, it prepares the child for writing.
It develops a muscular memory for shapes. It develops the motor capacity to
trace and recreate well-defined shapes, using the two fingers which will guide
the writing instrument. The lightness of touch will also be required for
writing. Another indirect aim is the preparation for reading, in preparing the
visual-sensorial memory for shapes.