Sensory Mathematics

Overview 

Sensory Mathematics helps children to recognise and apply fundamental sensory standards of colour, shape and size. It enables them to begin to analyse objects and their relationships using culturally defined sensory norms.

The natural world is almost overwhelmingly rich in its diversity of colours, shapes and forms. Our senses give us the ability to perceive this diversity, but it is culture that teaches us to understand our perceptions, for example, how to look and what to look at. Human cultures organise experience, systematising and classifying it in ways that allow us to make sense of the world and to operate confidently within it. Sensory abilities, shaped by our cultures, are the foundation upon which mental development builds.

 

Why are these skills important?

It is common to offer young children opportunities to name colours, or shapes, or to use size vocabulary. The Sensory Mathematics module aims to do much more than merely teach young children to attach labels to objects – that’s red, that’s a triangle, that’s big, that’s small. Practical activities encourage children to consider what it means to say that something is red, or that this object is a triangle, or that one object is bigger than another.  Tasks focus on how we can tell one colour or one shape from another, on how we know one thing is bigger than another, but smaller than something else. Naming the sensory properties of objects is the final consolidating step in a process of exploring and internalising perceptual concepts.

 

How does this module work?

The module embeds fundamental conceptual learning in carefully structured and sequenced everyday activities: games, stories, drawing, construction, role play, etc. An important feature of the tasks is that they offer systematic procedures for developing understanding. These include a kinaesthetic procedure for exploring the properties of shapes, and an emphasis on systematic comparison in exploring colour and relative size.

A particular feature of the module is the very careful introduction of concepts of size. An object’s shape and colour are intrinsic – they don’t change unless the object itself changes. Size, however, is relative, and later conventional. A cat is small in comparison with an elephant, but big in comparison with a mouse – the object has not changed but the context has.

Later stages of the module introduce the children to some of the conventional systems we use for organising perception. For example, the children learn about the colours of the spectrum, about variations of geometric shapes (right angle, acute angle and obtuse angled triangles, rectangles with differing proportions of length and width) and about the different parameters of size (length, breadth and width).

 

The additional benefits of this module

Sensory Mathematics builds the foundation for the development of mental abilities and as such, is the starting point for the whole Key to Learning program.

Another important feature is an emphasis on conveying that knowledge about sensory qualities is crucial. It has serious practical implications. Thus, for example, the children learn about colour by hiding mice from a dangerous cat, or about shape by feeding only appropriately shaped biscuits to each member of the shape family. There are good reasons for wanting to know!

Overview 

Sensory Mathematics helps children to recognise and apply fundamental sensory standards of colour, shape and size. It enables them to begin to analyse objects and their relationships using culturally defined sensory norms.

The natural world is almost overwhelmingly rich in its diversity of colours, shapes and forms. Our senses give us the ability to perceive this diversity, but it is culture that teaches us to understand our perceptions, for example, how to look and what to look at. Human cultures organise experience, systematising and classifying it in ways that allow us to make sense of the world and to operate confidently within it. Sensory abilities, shaped by our cultures, are the foundation upon which mental development builds.

 

Why are these skills important?

It is common to offer young children opportunities to name colours, or shapes, or to use size vocabulary. The Sensory Mathematics module aims to do much more than merely teach young children to attach labels to objects – that’s red, that’s a triangle, that’s big, that’s small. Practical activities encourage children to consider what it means to say that something is red, or that this object is a triangle, or that one object is bigger than another.  Tasks focus on how we can tell one colour or one shape from another, on how we know one thing is bigger than another, but smaller than something else. Naming the sensory properties of objects is the final consolidating step in a process of exploring and internalising perceptual concepts.

 

How does this module work?

The module embeds fundamental conceptual learning in carefully structured and sequenced everyday activities: games, stories, drawing, construction, role play, etc. An important feature of the tasks is that they offer systematic procedures for developing understanding. These include a kinaesthetic procedure for exploring the properties of shapes, and an emphasis on systematic comparison in exploring colour and relative size.

A particular feature of the module is the very careful introduction of concepts of size. An object’s shape and colour are intrinsic – they don’t change unless the object itself changes. Size, however, is relative, and later conventional. A cat is small in comparison with an elephant, but big in comparison with a mouse – the object has not changed but the context has.

Later stages of the module introduce the children to some of the conventional systems we use for organising perception. For example, the children learn about the colours of the spectrum, about variations of geometric shapes (right angle, acute angle and obtuse angled triangles, rectangles with differing proportions of length and width) and about the different parameters of size (length, breadth and width).

 

The additional benefits of this module

Sensory Mathematics builds the foundation for the development of mental abilities and as such, is the starting point for the whole Key to Learning program.

Another important feature is an emphasis on conveying that knowledge about sensory qualities is crucial. It has serious practical implications. Thus, for example, the children learn about colour by hiding mice from a dangerous cat, or about shape by feeding only appropriately shaped biscuits to each member of the shape family. There are good reasons for wanting to know!

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