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 polygons. 

Drawer 5 is irregular polygons.

Drawer 6 is curvilinear figures.

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.


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