Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Montessori Phase 1: Part 3: Stereognostic bags

Stereognostic bags: This is basically a bag with pairs of wooden shapes. I'm wondering if this tool lacks consistency because different stores have different numbers of pairs of the wooden shapes (some have 8 and others have 10 sets). However, in the Gettman book, 3 different bags are mentioned. Bag 1 is twenty wooden blocks: 10 cubes and 10 rectangular prisms. Bag 2 is 16 buttons with 4 3 cm in diameter, 4 2.5 cm, 4 1.8 cm, and 4 1.5 cm. Each 4 is supposed to be a slightly different shape. Bag 3 has 16 beads with 4 small with large holes, 4 the same size as the first set but with small holes, 4 elongated, and 4 very small. The child puts on a blindfold. For the first bag, they basically use the sense of touch to seperate into piles of cubes or rectangles. The same procedure is used for bags 2and 3 with the child seperating according to touch with their blindfold on. This tool really does seem to lack consistency as several stores have completely different looking wooden blocks. I'd be interested in hearing a Montessori teacher explain this tool a bit more. If the basic idea is to use the sense of touch to match shapes then this definitely looks like a tool that could easily be made, rather than purchasing. For now, I'll be using sets of wooden blocks that we already have. If you want to purchase, it is definitely one of the cheaper tools. For example, at http://www.alisonsmontessori.com/Mystery_Stereognostic_Bag_p/s23.htm it sells for $10.00.


Adventures in Montessori said...

I just made similar bags. I sewed up bags with only enough room to fit a hand in. I made two of them. Then I got six pairs of small wooden objects from a craft store. I put one in each bag. The way we use the work is in pairs. I reach in and pull our an object and the child feels the object and then reaches into their bag to feel out the match. Then they take a turn and I match their object until all of the objects are matched. I started with only six sets but as the child gains experience I will add to it.

Super Fun Mama said...

I received this comment on a Montessori yahoo group I belong to. The poster said I was welcome to copy and paste her response. I thought it was great so I wanted to share...
I have 10 stereognostic bags, one being a mystery bag (this is from my AMI training but I know there are differences even among AMI centers). The other 9 bags are labeled 1-9.

The mystery bag has a wide variety of objects (paper clips, miniature objects, clothespin, pen, acorn - for my own, I just looked around the house and gathered items).

The stereognostic bags: #1 is wooden shapes in pairs. The children pair them up, in varying ways (teacher finds one and child finds it match; pull one out and then find match; reach with both hands and find both matches; remove one at a time, and place them in a column, feeling each one first to see if might be a match or a new piece; etc). Use with or without the blindfold.

#2-9 are for sorting purposes. They are progressively more difficult. So you'd have 10 or so objects of one kind and the same number in another. For example, pennies and rocks in the first ones, 10 of each - and perhaps two just slightly different types of beads in the last bag (or pennies and dimes!). There is a tray for these bags with 2 bowls: the one in the center is larger, and the two to the sides are smaller (I've seen great trays set up like this too!). The children almost always use the blindfold with these, because they place the contents in the larger bowl, then use their stereognostic sense to sort them into the two small bowls.

Of all the versions I've seen or read about, I REALLY like this version best. The children love the challenge of the progressive difficulty. In the classroom, the guide will swap up the contents every few weeks (still maintaining a certain level of difficulty in each). At home, I've found I need to swap after my son works with each bag to perfection once or twice. He enjoys the changes and continuing practice, trying to "beat his time" sometimes... :)

learning montessori said...

The ideas for the sterognostic bags are wonderful. Thanks for sharing