Blindfold games are a favorite in our classroom. The children delight in precisely folding our handkerchiefs, finding a friend to tie them up, and matching different textures, temperatures, and weights. Closely tied for second place are the mystery bag (a sack containing ordinary objects which are routinely switched out) and sound cylinders (two sets of six matching cylinders, which when shaken produce a slightly different sound). Little do our students know just how much these fun activities are helping their development.
In the nineteenth century, Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin designed many materials to aid in the classification of the child’s “inner world”. We use their creations to help our students create order from the host of sensorial impressions they have absorbed from birth.
Sensorial materials help our students learn about size, weight, form, and dimension. One aspect of each material is either highlighted or perfectly isolated so that every other quality is unapparent or subdued. By highlighting these qualities, attention is brought to a particular focus. We isolate certain qualities such as:
- Touch: texture, temperature, weight
- Sight: color, shape, or form
- Sound: volume and pitch
- Smell: categories (floral/culinary/medicinal)
- Taste: bitter, sweet, sour, salty
Through the use of sensorial materials, we encourage multiple explorations of all of the senses so our students are able to differentiate greater differences in their environment. This ability to perceive differences strengthens the basis of intellect and enhances the power of reasoning, thinking, understanding, and appreciation.