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The Importance of Sensorial Activities in the Montessori Preschool Classroom

The word sensorial is derived from the word sense. It refers to the sensation that a sense sends to the brain at the time of receiving a stimulus from the environment. So that the Sensorial exercises are those exercise which sharpen the ability to use the senses. 

Importance of sensorial exercises:

Sensorial exercises are very important for children.  The child needs to acquire clear, conscious, information that one can perceive from the environment.  So, in order to get better abilities to use senses, sensorial exercises are important. These exercises enable the child to adjust in all kind of circumstances. During the sensitive period (0-7) of development, the child develops his sensorial development very rapidly. Sensorial exercises enable the child to make decisions and learn fast. Through sensorial exercises, the child begins to understand her environment.  Dr. Montessori said that:

“The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge. Our apparatus for educating the senses offers the child a key to guide her explorations of the world, they cast a light upon it which makes visible to her more things in greater detail than she could see in the dark, or uneducated state."
The Absorbent Mind p 167, Chap 17

The child has an inner urge to explore this world through their five senses. Sensorial exercises have materials and activities related to the functions of five senses for example discriminate the size and shape, colour, and patterns etc. these activities help her in development.

Sensorial exercises have a great influence on intelligence and ability to read, write and do anything. For example, the child could not differentiate between the letters b or even p. He claims that the words are same. Because he cannot distinguish between lines, shapes and position. Sensorial exercises help him to distinguish between them.

 Groups in senses:

Senses are grouped in eight categories due to the size, shape, composition, texture, loudness or softness, matching, weight, temperature etc.  These are:

Visual sense:

The children learn to visually discriminate differences between similar and different objects.

Tactile sense:

Children learn through their sense of touch.

 Baric sense:

Children learn to sense the difference of pressure or weight of different objects. This sense is sharp through the use of a band or of closing your eyes.

Thermic sense:

In this exercise the child works to enhance his sense of temperature.

Auditory sense:

The child can differentiate between different sounds through auditory sense. Thorough practicing these auditory exercises, children can improve their sense of hearing.

Gustatory sense:

The child learns to differentiate between different tastes.

Stereo gnostic Sense:

In this exercise a child learns to feel objects and make recognitions based on what he feels. 

“When the hand and arm are moved about an object, an impression of movement is added to that touch. Such an impression is attributed to a special, sixth sense, which is called a muscular sense, and which permits many impressions to be stored in a “muscular memory”, which recalls movements that have been made”. ((Montessori, Maria (1997) the Discovery of the Child, Oxford, England: Clio Press)

Through these categories, the child experiences her first steps in organizing her intelligence. The child needs to master all of the senses. She is conscious and able to perceive her environment more effectively.   Dr. Maria Montessori believed that senses are developed from birth.