Material Spotlight: Touch Tablets

Material Spotlight: Touch Tablets

Introducing the Touch Tablets

The Touch Tablets form part of the Montessori Sensorial Curriculum, which aims to teach children how to classify items within their environment using the five senses. The Touch Tablets focus on the tactile sense of touch, and isolate the concepts of rough and smooth.

The material is comprised of 5 matching pairs of tablets. Each pair has a different grade of sandpaper, ranging from grainy smooth to very rough. The tablets are stored in a small box with a blindfold, which the child wears during the activity.

Purpose

Children are introduced to the Montessori Touch Tablets from the age of two and a half to three years old. This is usually after they have worked with the Montessori Touch Boards, and have sufficient experience with materials from the Practical Life curriculum.

The Touch Tablets are mainly used to refine a child’s tactile sense, allowing them to discern between rough and smooth. The blindfold helps the child to focus their attention on one sense, which guides them to completing the activity.

The child has finished with the Touch Tablets when they can correctly organise the boards from rough to smooth and match the pairs of tablets. This activity also aids in the preparation for writing, as the child acquires better muscular control through lightness of touch.

Presentation Introduction: Sensitising Fingertips

Before working with any tactile material, it is important to sensitise your fingertips so both the teacher and student are ready to engage this sense.

  • Invite the child to come work with you. Identify the correct tray and have the child bring it over to the table. It will contain a jug, bowl and towel.
  • Fill the jug with warm water and bring it back to the table. Pour warm water into the bowl and put the fingertips of your dominant hand gently into the water.
  • Let them soak, then place your fingertips onto the towel. Stimulate them by drying them with the towel. Empty the bowl and replace the tray back on the shelf.

Presentation One: Becoming Familiar with the Tactile

  • Sensitise your fingertips before beginning your presentation.
  • Guide the child to the Sensorial Curriculum area and identify the Touch Tablets. Bring the work tray over to a table.
  • Take out the two pairs of the greatest contrast and spread them in a random order on the table.
  • Touch each board, one at a time, using your index and middle fingers. Once complete encourage the child to have a turn.
  • Choose a tablet, and tell the child: “We’re going to find a match. I am going to let my fingers, not my eyes, do this work.”
  • Place the blindfold over your eyes. Touch your control tablet, and the other three tablets. Move a matching pair to your left and the other to your right.
  • Remove your blindfold. Allow the child to feel how each pair matches.
  • After mixing the tablets again, offer the child a turn with the blindfold on. Once they are finished, remove their blindfold. Touch each pair, and have the child do so again without the blindfold, allowing them to correct any mistakes that have been made.
  • Once complete, replace the tablets in the box, and put away the tray.

This activity is built upon by gradually adding pairs to match up.

Presentation Two: Grading the Tablets

  • Sensitise your fingertips before beginning your presentation.
  • Guide the child to the Sensorial Curriculum area and identify the Touch Tablets.
  • Bring the work tray over to a table.
  • Take out five boards, one from each pair, and spread them in a random order on the table.
  • Touch each board, one at a time, using your index and middle fingers. Once complete encourage the child to have a turn.
  • Tell the child: “I am going to order these tablets from rough to smooth. I am going to let my fingers, not eyes, do this work.”
  • Place the blindfold over your eyes, and touch the tablets, identifying the roughest. Place this one on the left.
  • Continue to touch and identify the next tablet along in your order, placing it next to the other identified tablet,
  • Once complete, remove your blindfold. Allow the child to feel the change from rough to smooth.
  • After mixing the tablets again, offer the child a turn with the blindfold on. Once they are finished remove their blindfold. Touch each tablet, and have the child do so again without the blindfold, allowing them to correct any mistakes that have been made.
  • Once complete, replace the tablets in the box, and put away the tray.