Monday, February 6, 2012

What's on your fingertips?

Last week, the children discovered a new sensorial material on our shelves: the Baric Tablets. I have hummed and hawed for quite a while before buying the set. I considered making my own set but to be quite honest, I have so much on my plate at the moment but my 2 trainings... I got lazy and went for the easiest option.. Praying I wouldn't regret my investment. Once again, I shouldn't have doubted Montessori. What worked for her years ago still apply to the 21st century kid (to some extent, of course!)

For this activity, we use three boxes containing three sets of wooden tablets made from different types of timber (beech, oak, mahogany). There is a difference of approximately 6 grams between each tablets. And don't forget the blindfold (kids LOVE it. I think it makes the exercise more exiting!). The Baric Tablets are to stimulate the child's awareness in differences in weight and refine his senses. The idea is that the child closes his eyes to focus his attention on the weight rather than the color of the wooden tablets. When he opens his eye, the child can check whether or not he has sorted the tablets correctly by weight by looking at the different colors of these three types of timber.

When I put the tablets on the shelves, as you can imagine, children were queueing to see what the new exercise was. They all wanted to have a go at it first and it took a while before the children agreed to take turns and to let Tom go first. I stepped back and let them solve the problem themselves. I was so proud of them for sorting it out all on their own without my intervention! I followed our usual  Montessori work cycle and  picked the 2 most contrasting tablets (the lightest and the heaviest). I closed the box and placed it on the top right corner of the table,his hands up and his fingers bent and spread. I placed one tablet on each hand and asked Tom which one was the lightest and which one was the heaviest. I showed him how to make a tower with the heaviest tablets and another with the lightest. 

(Again, my pics are turning sideways!! Thought they are the right way in my picture folder on my computer!! Anybody there who knows how to rotate pics when writing a post?)
Once Tom has mastered one type of contrasting tablets (lighter/heavier), he can move to another set (Lighter/medium or heavier/medium). Finally, as the children progress, they can use the 3 sets together and pile the tablets into 3 towers as they categorize them into light, medium and heavy.

Needless to say that the exercise was very popular!! Children love diversity and this material concentrates on one sense they had never been aske to work with. It is different and it is challenging.  So, investing in the Baric tablets was definitely a good move for our classroom. No regret here!!
At home, you can easily recreate this activity by using any objects you can find which will introduce the concept of heavy and light to your child : wooden blocks, rocks, feathers, marbles, etc..  Of course,  a homemade lesson might not appear as controlled as using the Montessori tablets, but you would still achieve your goal: teaching weight discrimination and refining your child's awareness of weights in his environment.

If you know of any extension to this activity, please leave a comment. See you soon!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this review. With a limited budget, each year to buy new materials it is always helpful to find out which materials have worked well for another. I know that all the Montessori materials are worth the investment but over the past couple of years I have found that some materials get more use than others.



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