Beyond the Five Senses

Delivery Method: 

Four toddlers are walking on contact paper, sticky side up, taped to the floor. Most often such an activity is called “sensorial play” and justified with phrases such as “they are exploring their sense of touch.” Such phrases, perhaps derived from Montessori’s phrase of “educating the senses,” imply that the children are learning what objects are smooth, what objects are rough, what objects are sticky, what objects are not. The emphasis is placed on a refinement of the sense, in this case touch, so that with experience, like a sculptor choosing the right wood, the child can determine the texture, the temperature, the grain, or the adhesiveness of objects.

The literature on sensorial play seldom reveals the strategies the children use to make these distinctions and seldom reveals the extensions the child makes once an attribute, such as adhesiveness, is discovered. What does it yield for something to be sticky? What can I do with sticky? How can I have fun with sticky? These extensions are not classically “sensorial.” These extensions go beyond “Is this sticky?” or “To what degree is this sticky?” These extensions enter the world of invention, reasoning, inferring, figuring things out, and “what if “ games. Such extensions are typical even for the one-year-old.

This video clip allows you to identify how children explore unfamiliar terrain, how they invent strategies that give them reliable information. When you download the video clip you will also receive a text file containing our analysis of what some of these strategies might be. But we invite you to find more.

Keywords: Balance, Sticky, Ones

Run Time: 2 minutes, 35 seconds