Developing the tactile sense with a Montessori Sensorial MYSTERY BAG Activity (also called STEREOGNOSTIC BAG) connects the sense of touch to a child’s memory.
Connecting the sense of touch to a child’s memory in the goal of stereognostic bag, which is also called “The Mystery Bag.” In Montessori education, the stereognostic sense is defined as an ability to identify an object by distinguishing its shape, texture, and consistency based on touch alone (by running fingers over the object), without seeing it. A young child who learns by touching has a developed muscular and tactile memory, which refines his/her stereognostic sense. The Stereognostic bag, which is a Montessori sensorial activity to stimulate tactile sense, can be enjoyed by children of various ages. For example, a twelve-month-old can enjoy a variation of a ‘treasure basket’ to a six-year-old and older who has to find, name, and match a pair by relying only on a sense of touch.
Montessori STEREOGNOSTIC MYSTERY BAG
Refine sense of touch
2 – 6 years
Halloween Mystery Bag
Besides, the Mystery bag is very easy to put together. Include pairs of a few simple items, each unique in its shape or texture. Moreover, a Mystery bag (or a basket) is versatile since items can be varied every time. Most importantly, the Stereognostic bag is FUN and engaging to a child who, with his/her eyes closed and while relying purely on the sense of touch, would attempt to identify an item, name it and retrieve one-by-one.
For this Montessori STEREOGNOSTIC MYSTERY BAG
- a non-transparent drawstring bag OR a basket that you can cover with a cloth
- about ten objects (or five pairs) ~ SEE PDF EXAMPLES HERE
- *blindfold (optional) ~ as an extension to the lesson, you can invite a child to wear a blindfold to prevent peeking into the bag. Eliminating visual assistance compels a child to use the SENSE OF TOUCH ONLY to determine what the object is that the fingers are examining.
ORDER OF PRESENTING STEREOGNOSTIC BAG
The following is the order, in my opinion, from the least challenging to the most of presenting this quintessential Montessori sensorial activity.
[12 M+] FIND and EXAMINE
This is the simplest variation of the stereognostic bag ~ aka a treasure basket, but in a bag. [You can introduce treasure baskets as early as four months, during tummy times to encourage the lifting of the chest off the floor. Treasure baskets are NOT closed and are meant for a baby to explore the textures. Some of the items to consider for the treasure basket are small hand-dyed silk, an organic cotton ball, an organic teether, or an infant hairbrush.] As a child reaches his/her first birthday, you can place those items in a ‘mystery bag’ and offer to retrieve one by one. Thus, this type of sensorial exercise is more an exploration of objects, while isolating the sense of touch.
[18 M+] CAN YOU FIND ___?
At around two years, since a child is unlikely yet to name the object s/he is feeling in the bag, you in turn may ask a child to retrieve a particular item while relying on the sense of touch only. For example, ask a child: “Can you find a fork?” Keep the objects SIMPLE and FAMILIAR to the child, although the child should not know ahead of time what is in the bag ~ aka a Mystery! For example, include just a few items: such as a brush, a wooden egg, a spoon, a sea sponge. Do not use a blindfold. Invite a child to retrieve a particular item which s/he shall find using the sense of touch only.
[2 Y+] FIND and DESCRIBE
Remember, the younger the child is, the fewer items should be inside the mystery bag (three to five items are enough). Moreover, the younger the child, the more familiar the objects should be such as a wooden egg or a block, a cone, a spoon, a toothbrush, a feather, a car/doll etc. A blindfold is not recommended early on as the child can simply close his/her eyes. Besides, a younger child might not feel comfortable wearing a blindfold. Besides, looking for an object inside a non-transparent bag already triggers a stereognostic sense. Thus, invite a child to place a hand inside of the bag and after feeling an object, to describe how it feels: round, smooth, fluffy, hard, spiky, square, and so forth. Lastly, offer a child to retrieve an object, and examine it a little more.
See HERE Developing The Stereognostic Sense at 29 months.
[AGE 2.5 Y+] CAN YOU FIND A PAIR?
The Montessori STEREOGNOSTIC MYSTERY BAG can become more and more challenging as the child refines his or her stereognostic sense. The other variation is to place pairs of similar items and ask the child to find the matching pair just by touching it. Usually, this activity is presented with Montessori paired geometric solids at around 3 years of age, but you can keep it real simple with familiar objects and introduce it earlier.
SEE HERE ~ Mystery Bag “CAN YOU FIND A PAIR? Toddler/2.5 yo ~ 31 M Presentation
[AGE 3 Y +] WHAT IS IT?
An older child can also name an object after finding and identifying it, but before retrieving it from the bag. Remind the child to feel the object and tell what he/she feels, i.e. soft, fluffy, light, etc. , and then to say the object’s name “I think this is a car” before taking it out of the bag.
Here, Adrian (4 yo) is playing “Can you find a pair?” game AND “What is it?” Thus, not knowing what is inside (a mystery!) the bag, he would feel an object, describe it, and try to identify and name what it is.
Adrian would then retrieve it, explore it a little more while still having a blindfold; then name an object, open the blindfold and see if he was correct or not. (The more familiar the objects are, the easier it will be for a child to identify them.)
For the Montessori STEREOGNOSTIC MYSTERY BAG, I suggest using real objects and changing them as often as needed to keep the child’s interest. Also, the activity can “grow” with your child: for example, the less familiar the objects are, the harder it will be for a child to identify them – make it a real mystery! For even older children, to further increase the level of difficulty, increase the amount of objects in the bag, and make sure that the child names the object before s/he retrieves it (it is much harder to manipulate and examine an object when there are many other items right next to it in the bag). But, regardless of the process of presenting this activity, the mystery bag is a fun and exciting way to promote language development and to refine stereognostic sense and material visualization.
HOLIDAY THEMED EXTENSIONS:
Also, with Montessori STEREOGNOSTIC MYSTERY BAGs, you can add a fun twist around holidays by including thematic objects as we did for Halloween above or for Christmas below! Do modify according to the holidays your family celebrates!
See HERE Christmas Inspired Mystery Bag.
STEREOGNOSTIC BAG PRESENTATION
Developing TACTILE SENSE in a NUTSHELL
Whether you are using this Montessori sensorial activity while developing the tactile sense of a toddler or preschooler, below find a simple guideline to help refine the sense touch and train memory.
- PREPARATION of the MATERIAL: Place the objects (or pairs) INSIDE of the bag without a child seeing/knowing what the content of the bag is.
- PREPARATION of the SPACE: Ask a child to unroll the mat or sit down at a table or a floor table.
- BRINGING the MATERIAL: Invite your child to bring the tray with a ‘mystery bag’ and look at the outside of the bag/basket. Ask what s/he thinks is inside.
- POSITION: Place the mystery bag beside the child. (The child should be sitting on the LEFT of a teacher/parent ~ this way the child can see the presentation unobstructed by the parent’s hand or elbow.)
- ADULT DEMONSTRATION: Opening the bag only enough to reach an arm in, place your hand inside of the bag and after feeling an object describe how it feels: round, smooth, fluffy, hard, spiky, square, and so forth. Then guess and say the name of the object that you are feeling. Thereafter, remove the object and say its name. Were you correct? (If the bag contains pairs, find the matching object in a bag, remove and place next to its pair.)
- CHILD’s TURN: invite your child to reach in the bag, feel, and DESCRIBE the object. Can a child recognize what the object is by examining it with the hand, thus relying only on the tactile stimulation?
- Depending on a child’s age, you can invite him/her to NAME the object and /or find a PAIR. If the child cannot identify the object in the bag, name the object for the child after s/he removes it from the bag. Invite a child to repeat the name of the object.
- REPEAT these steps for each object that the child removes from the ‘stereognostic bag.’
- CLEAN UP: After the child has satisfied the desire to explore the objects (it can be a few or all), invite a child to place the objects BACK into the mystery bag.
- RETURN the tray with the bag to the shelf and the mat to its storage place.
The mystery bag has long been a favorite children’s activity. Usually, it is simply a cloth bag or box with a hole for your child’s hands, through which she can touch and manipulate objects that she cannot see. To play you will need a collection of small objects with which your child is familiar and which she can name. While she closes her eyes, place an object inside the bag, and challenge her to identify it by touch alone. If your child guesses correctly, you and your child switch roles. Keep this game going for older children by making it more difficult, using different coins, shells, or geometric shapes, for example.The Mystery Bag (3-6 years) from How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way
Please always supervise your child.
Have you downloaded my NEW eBook THE BASICS? It has everything you need to know to get started on your Montessori journey, as well as a CURRICULUM outline reference guide, the order of lessons, and the age when they should be introduced, in my opinion. See details HERE.
Also, check out HERE Homeschooling Montessori MADE-EASY membership in case you are exhausted from swimming in the vast ocean of irrelevant information and saving activities you never get to! And if you sign UP, the eBook is included in the package amongst MANY other perks!