In the Purple Room, our classroom shelf works are divided into areas. In addition to math, language, and practical life shelf works, we have sensorial works which are kept on shelves near the purple meeting rug. The kids use these materials on special work mats. We have had sensorial shelf works in the classroom since the beginning of the school year, and will continue to add to and switch them out as the children are ready for more challenging work. The purpose of these works is to help the child develop the senses, begin to understand gradation among materials and to develop discrimination of difference in width, length, dimension, and size. The sensorial works currently on our shelves are the brown stair, pink tower, four different sets of knobbed cylinders, and a wooden rainbow. They are often graded by size, color, shape, and feel and are presented at the beginning of the year as an open ended work for children to explore. The first two beginning knobbed cylinders are graded by just one attribute, width and depth respectively. The second two more challenging knobbed cylinders are graded by width and depth combined. Though they are designed with built-in feedback to control for error, these materials are very much open ended and children can do many different things with them.
In the Purple Room, children use the sensorial materials both as they were designed to be used and in many different new and exciting ways, often as objects in dramatic play scenarios or in building projects. It's also often an area of the classroom where many children can and do work together. The Purple Room kids have been showing quite an interest in building, and the sensorial materials are perfect for engaging that interest. In the past few weeks, these materials have been used to create towers, spaceships, playgrounds, castles, and pirate ships. We have noticed words like "balance" and "support" being used, and we are excited to see where we go with these themes this year.
Check out some photos of Purple Room kids at work using sensorial materials below!
(Purple Room Classroom)
Written by Purple Room Collaborative Teachers, Kenzie & Laura