The Geometry Cabinet is part of the Sensorial area of a Montessori classroom. It is used to further develop the child’s visual and tactile senses in the discrimination of shape and form.
There are several purposes to this work.The first is to expose the child to a variety of geometric shapes and to help him discern the differences between them. He will begin to notice the finer differences of the shapes as he compares similar figures. As the child works with this material, we find that he begins to see the world around him differently. He will start to see the geometric shapes that surround him in his everyday life! Often as the child works with the shapes, the teacher is giving him the names for each in the form of a fun language game we call the Three-Period Lesson. The names of the shapes are important because once he knows their names, he can identify them as they are spontaneously observed and he will be able to communicate about them.
Another purpose of this material is the absorption of the geometric figures. As this material is presented, the child is shown to remove and trace around each shape with his fingers. For the young child, this kind of movement is irresistible! As he repeatedly traces the shapes, he develops a muscle memory of each one. He comes to know the shape by not just sight, but by touch. In the Montessori classroom, you can find children removing and replacing six or more shapes in one sitting while wearing a blindfold.
The last purpose is that of an indirect preparation for handwriting. Each shape inset has a knob that the child engages a three finger grip to grasp. This grasp is the same used to hold a pencil. Through his repeated removal and replacement of the shape, his fingers are being prepared for the correct pencil grip. As his fingers trace the contours of the shapes, he is not only controlling the muscles of the hand, but developing a firmness of touch. This will again help him as begins to learn to write. We find that this type of indirect preparation lends to much success as the child begins working with a pencil.
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