Montessori Monday 7 2013/14
The Touch Tablets
Close your eyes! Don't peek! Remember the excitement of exploring with your eyes closed? That same energy is captured when children enjoy the Touch Tablets, a series of wooden plates in our Sensorial materials. The tablets develop children's sense of touch, building their ability to distinguish between subtle changes in the surface of each plate. Through a series of lessons, children learn to grade the plates by their roughness and smoothness, to match similar "touches" and to use accurately language to describe the differences.
Why is the sense of touch so important? Our ability to distinguish by touch allows us to determine an object's size, shape, eight, texture and termperature. It allows us to learn about our environment through all the surfaces of our skin. And while the skin, at an area of roughly eighteen square feet, is the largest organ of the body, we tend to rely heavily on the fingertips, those special receptors for touch we use most intentionally to distinguish stimuli throughout the day. The hand is home to mechanoreceptors, the touch receptors that perceive pressure, vibrations and texture, thermoreceptors, the receptors that perceive temperature, nocireceptors, the receptors that perceive pain and proprioceptors, the receptors that determine your position in space. All work together to give us information about our environments. Specifically, in our classrooms, developing the sense of touch helps the child to better access the academic language materials (like the sandpaper letters) and the math materials (like the sandpaper numerals), while supporting the child's work in the careful movements of Practical Life and, of course, the other Sensorial materials. A core philosophy of the Montessori classroom is the belief that "there is nothing in the mind that wasn't first in the hand." Developing the perceptions of the hand help the child to absorb endless other information throughout the classroom and beyond.
The control of error in the Touch Tablets requires children to close their eyes to isolate their sense of touch... the outcome is its own bit of magic.
Catherine McTamaney, Ed.D. Christopher Academy Alumna