Monday, 17 November 2014

The Sensorial Materials ~ The Sound Cylinders

The Montessori casa classroom is organized into five disciplines or subjects - Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Arithmetic and Culture.  Each discipline has a number of interesting and attractive activities which follow a sequence. Activities in each discipline are organized from the earliest/easiest activity to the most complex.

The activities found in the Sensorial area of the classroom help the child sort out sense perceptions.  Maria Montessori created many varied activities which highlight sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing.  The Sound Cylinders are one such activity which help develop the child's auditory sense.  It is a very popular piece of material in our classrooms.

The material consists of two wooden boxes, one with a red lid and one with a blue lid.  Inside each of the boxes are six hollow cylinders made out of wood with non-removable lids. Each cylinder contains granular material that make a different pitch and volume of sound when shaken.  Each cylinder in the red box has an identical match in the blue box.

The Sound Cylinders

When a child works with these materials, the red cylinders are placed on the left.  The red cylinders act as the control. The blue cylinders are placed on the right and are matched with a corresponding red cylinder.  This work can be done on a mat or on a table.

The child is ready to begin matching the Sound Cylinders.

The child chooses a red Sound Cylinder closest to him.  He holds it a few inches from one ear and gives the cylinder two sharp shakes downward while listening to the sound it makes.  

Shaking a Red Sound Cylinder

The child then takes a blue Sound Cylinder, holds it close to his ear and gives the cylinder two sharp shakes downward. The child is trying to match the sound of the red Sound Cylinder.

Looking For a Match

The child continues shaking the red Sound Cylinder and each blue Sound Cylinder until a match is found.

When a match is found, the child places the matching pairs in the centre of the two rows of cylinders.

Pairing the Sound Cylinders

All Sound Cylinders Are Matched

Matching the sounds is the first exercise presented with the Sound Cylinders.  There are many extensions that can be done with the Sound Cylinders  - grading the cylinders from loudest to softest and vice versa, placing the cylinders on two separate mats in the classroom a distance away from each other and isolating one sound, isolating sounds and asking for the next louder or the next softer.

In Winter 2014 we graded the Sound Cylinders during our circle time.  Twelve children were given a Sound Cylinder.
The children with red Sound Cylinders lined up on one line and the children with the blue Sound Cylinders lined up on the other line.

Each child is holding a Sound Cylinder.

In the photograph, E. (who recently graduated from our program and is currently in grade one) is looking to match her red Sound Cylinder with the corresponding blue Sound Cylinder.  She shakes her red cylinder in front of a child with a blue cylinder.  The child with the blue cylinder shakes his/her cylinder.  She continues down the line until she finds a match.  When a match is found, the children stand in the centre between the two lines.

Looking For a Match

All of the Sound Cylinders have been matched.

All of the  Sound Cylinders have been matched.

We all had a lot of fun that day working collectively with the Sound Cylinders.

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