The Sensorial area of the Montessori classroom is a feast for the young child, just experiencing the world! From the Pink Tower to the subject of this post, the Fabric Boxes, the child is able to utilize all 5 senses to explore.
What are the Fabric Boxes, and why are they included in classroom work? Like many materials, they serve multiple purposes.
To begin, most classrooms have more than one box containing samples of different types of fabrics. Easy variations to use come from different fibers and weaves. For example, one box may contain squares of wool, cotton, silk, rayon, burlap, and fleece. Another box may contain fabrics made only of silk, like velvet, lace, taffeta, or chiffon. The boxes will include a set of each fabric, or rather two matching squares. Here’s an example of 5 different types of fabric:
The guide, blindfolded, will first demonstrate the activity for the child. The sets of fabric are lined up in two columns. Each square of fabric on the left side has a matching square on the right. The guide will start with the top left square, feeling the fabric intently. Then, starting with the top right square, he or she will feel each piece of fabric until locating the matching square!
After setting this matching pair aside, the guide will continue with each piece of fabric until all of them have been matched. To check for errors, the guide will take off the blindfold and compare the matches visually.
Next, the child can give it a try, using their very keen senses to help them match fabrics. The fabrics in the classroom will be rotated every so often to keep the attention of the children and offer new interest in the material.
The Fabric Boxes are a great way for children to refine the tactile sense. As they advance, they may also be presented with the names of the fabrics, further increasing their vocabulary with familiar items!