Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baric Tablets - Feeling the difference in Weight

The Baric Tablets were developed by Dr. Montessori as a way to develop the sense of touch and more specifically to make fine discriminations in weight. The child wears a blindfold to focus his attention on the weight rather than the color of the tablets.
Although there are three different weights of tablets, the two most contrasting ones are used to begin. We teach specific vocabulary such as "heavy" and "light" to describe the different weights and carefully place them on the fingertips of the hand. Here a child has completed this exercise and another child wishes to help place the tablets in the hand.
After the child feels the difference (by gently moving the tablets up and down), they state which one is heavy and which one is light. We then place these in two separate piles. At the end, the child removes their blindfold and looks to see if the piles all have the same color. This is the control of error. At that point they may wish to complete the work again.
Montessori (Discovery of the Child, 1988, pg. 118) explains the material is made of wood because, "differences of temperature have to be avoided (and this is why materials are made of wood), if one is to obtain a true impression of an object's weight. Moving the hand up and down changes the weight because of the resistance of the atmosphere." As you can see, the Montessori materials are well thought out to provide a rich experience for the children.

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