The Stereognostic Sense
The Early Childhood Montessori classrooms provide rich supports as children refine their abilities to perceive through their senses and to order and classify what they perceive. Each all the senses is represented in the Sensorial area of the curriculum, with materials to help build children's visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory and gustatory senses. The "sixth" sense is the stereognostic sense, and it's represented here, too. The stereognostic sense, sometimes called tactile gnosis, is your ability to identify an object without looking at it, smelling it, tasting it or hearing its sounds. When you can find your alarm clock on your bedside table before you open your eyes in the morning: that's your stereognostic sense. When you can find your keys in the bottom of your bag: that's your stereognostic sense. In the classroom, we help to support this development through the use of blindfolds and mystery bags. Absent a visual cue, children use their fingers to feel the shapes and weights of various objects, identifying one from another. They may play identifying games, like putting all the pieces of the US States map into a mystery bag and challenging each other to "find New Jersey" or "find Texas." Or they may sort and classify objects as seen in the picture here, placing objects of the same dimension into piles or containers together. Play some at home... hide utensils from the kitchen drawer in a pillowcase or some of your child's favorite action figures and challenge them to find the ones you name. Then, practice using that wonderful, big word, "stereognostic." While often overlooked in other settings, the stereognostic sense is important for the child's emerging ability to name and perceive their environment, building their understanding of dimension and supporting cognitive pathways that will be used for mathematical and spatial reasoning and language development. Plus, these games are great fun!