Monday, April 4, 2011

School Day: Sensorial

The past week has been about everything binomial and trinomial. These are two of Me Too's favorite works.

Kal-El's progression through the sensorial materials was basically halted during the 12 months it took to sell our house, move, and set up our materials again. Additionally, Me Too has always been much more interested in and adept in this area. This means that both boys are in relatively the same place in the sequence. Their approaches are from two entirely different places. Me Too is very challenged by these works, spends a long time with the materials, and repeats them frequently. Kal-El does not find these works to be too easy by any means. However, he has a larger mental toolbox to draw from and solves the problems more efficiently.

Kal-El has always refused presentations on the trinomial cube. Today I asked him to show me how to do the binomial because it was something he explored before the move. I felt a review of the binomial would make the trinomial easier and didn't have ANY idea whether he remembered how to complete it.

Because Me Too thinks this is "HIS special work" he kept a close eye on Kal-El's progress. In fact, if he came any closer his eye would be ON the cube. He was a great little cheerleader though.

Kal-El then admitted that he was "scared" of the trinomial cube. I told him that it is a cube made out of little blocks, not a monster or supervillian, and that we didn't need to be afraid of a bunch of blocks. His face lit up with a big grin and we were good to go.

I had him watch me build it inside the box. Then he built it himself twice. The tricky parts seem to be remembering to use the larger prisms toward the inside and the smaller toward the outside and, likewise, building a taller level on the bottom and the shortest level on the top. If you reverse any of the levels all of the sides don't match the picture on the lid. The work he has already done with the Decanomial Square/Pythagoras Square made this easy to correct.

Next, I built the cube outside its box and we checked all the interior and exterior faces. Kal-El finds this fascinating. He likes to try to trump me by finding a face I've missed. Finally, Kal-El rebuilt it inside its box and returned it to the shelf.

In other news, Me Too has STILL not tired of the cylinder blocks. I'm glad he is making sure we get our money's worth out of them.


  1. where the cilinders at the very beginning a hit with your boy? how old was he then? my 2,5 daughter does not seem to be very interested, no matter how hard i try :D

  2. to be honest - she played with oneof the items on the day it arrived, but that's all. may be she is too old for it already?

  3. Liga,

    That is a tough question. The child's response to a material that is too easy is "lack of interest." The child's response to a material that is too hard is "lack of interest."

    Remember that they don't have to complete every sensorial material in order to go on to the next. Some they may have mastered another way, many are meant to be used in parallel, not strictly one after another. With a child of that age I would feel free to continue to present different sensorial materials from the appropriate "chunk" of the sequence and see if something is a "hit." If nothing is, you'll know pretty accurately that everything is actually still "too hard." If she likes some of the other things, keep going and don't worry about what she's not interested in. As long as she starts finding items that DO interest her she can settle in to the sequence.

    I find that if you have inadvertently pushed them into the sensorial sequence too soon the flame goes out when they get to the red rods. They can "putter through" the other activities but if they get to the red rods without the necessary skills you know it. Hard.

    Me Too started the cylinder blocks at about 20 months. HE IS STILL USING THEM. He liked them enough to use them when he was technically "not ready." Then, when he REALLY was ready he exploded through the different levels of difficulty.

    In a traditional Montessori setting I think the expectations are little more casual regarding the use of those materials. I doubt the teachers are running around stressing that "Mikey" hasn't used the pink tower more than a couple of times. They re-present the materials from time to time. After that, it's up to the child to choose them (with some exceptions). I think when we spend our own hard earned money for materials only a couple kids will use we get hung up on how much they use them. Certain materials wind up over-emphasized because we think they should be used a lot and lose our perspective.

    Really, the child may have a day or two where they repeat the pink tower a bunch of times. After that, they are probably done. In a school that would be that. At home we are like "this pink tower was $20, don't you want to play with your pink tower some more?" At the same time, we are so excited to get started we think they should be ready for things they are not. It is definitely tricky.

  4. I agree with the idea that sometime we want them to do it more even though they already mastered something! I found that with Bunny. However, Pup who is 2, wants to do work that seems too far ahead of the sequence! She loves to do one cylinder block at a time, and the other day she decided that she wanted to put the knobless cylinders into the cylinder block. That work is an extention, but she HAD to do it! And She Could!!!!!! I was shocked! I let her do it because she could. I figured that it was something that she was needing to do. She has been working on that daily. I guess it all boils down to following the child! :)

  5. Nice post! I loved reading your comment as well. Thank you for sharing.

  6. thank you for such an elaborate comment! the reason why i am thinking, she might be too old for it is, cause she played with it at the age of 18 months and now is not interested. however, if i am observing enough, it could be also related to the fact that we recently moved to another country, so she in general is reluctant to new and intense brain work:)

    i agree, that reason for my "worries" is that i have spent a lot of money for theese and she is my only child :D in a classroom i would not be worried so much :)

    thanks again, for feedback!