Friday, April 18, 2008

"Make Your Own Sensorial Material" - Part 3 - Sound Cylinders

It's been a while since my last post. I've been very busy trying to keep everyone in the family healthy, as we've been beset by late-winter colds, etc.

I've also been doing a lot of sanding and painting. The pink tower is almost completely finished, and I now have some excellent new materials and manuals that I will be writing about at length in some future post.

But, for tonight, I'm just going to show you my latest finished product - the sound cylinders.

I found an excellent explanation of the sound cylinders and how they work at Educational Video Publishing in their article "An Introduction to Montessori Philosophy and Materials" which, if you go to their link to see the full transcript, is definitely a good read. It reads as follows:
"Building auditory skills is an integral part of the Montessori curriculum. The sound cylinders come in two sets of six hollow cylinders that are color coded blue and red. The child chooses a blue cylinder and tries to match the sound it makes with one of the red cylinders. The materials inside the cylinders are chosen to make louder or softer noises when shaken. By using the sound cylinders, children learn to distinguish subtle changes in volume. "

But, buying them is a ridiculous expense, so I made them.

This is how they turned out. It was one of the simpler items to make. Which was good - I needed something simple for a change! For materials I used:

  1. 14 film canisters - Kodak, to be precise, because you cannot see through them
  2. a pretty cardboard box from the Dollarama
  3. latex primer
  4. high-grit sandpaper
  5. acrylic paint
  6. acrylic varnish/sealant
  7. glue gun
  8. a variety of random items

To put them together, I lightly sanded the covers of the film canisters, to "rough them up" in the hopes that the paint would stay on the plastic all the better. Then I primed them with the latex primer, for the same reason. It took multiple coats of the acrylic paint (3, if I remember correctly) for them to look "good." I sealed that finally with the acrylic varnish, which make the claim that it will not yellow over time. Then came the fun part: stuffing them! I just wandered around the house, trying to find stuff that would make a variety of sounds. I used:

  1. rice
  2. pasta
  3. tiny crushed and rolled-up bits of paper
  4. toothpicks cut in two
  5. some spice - whatever we had a lot of... might have been thyme? maybe sage?
  6. pennies
  7. glass stones

Once they were stuffed, and tested to make sure they were both similar enough in sound, but not too similar, I glued the covers on. And to finish, as you can see in the above photo, I made a control-of-error on the bottom by putting a different colour of paint dot on the bottom of each matching set.

And I know, I know... the question everyone wants answered is... Why seven sets? Why not the "six" as prescribed in the Montessori method? Here's why:

Silly? Yes, I know it is! But the box I bought could hold only seven sets, with one blank spot (which I stuffed with a piece of material so they don't all fall over). Truth be told, Ella has loved using them, but her ear must be pretty good, because she doesn't seem as challenged as I'd hoped she would be. So I might just have to get a bigger box and make some more!

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At 11:36 p.m. , Blogger Unknown said...

Hello :)

I just wanted to thank you for this great, *timely* (for me) post.

I had written more but just lost it (eeek!) so shall just leave it with a big, fat...


Amber (Australia)

At 3:23 p.m. , Blogger Miss Dailey said...

if you put different color stickers under the cylinders then its a color matching work not a listening activity

At 3:39 p.m. , Blogger HomeSchooler said...

The coloured dots on the bottom are the "control of error." In Montessori terms this means that they are not meant to be looked at until the activity has been finished. They are only to be used by the child to discover if they have completed the matching correctly.

I did catch Ella using the dots once or twice, which gave us the opportunity to talk about cheating. Since then she's done the activity correctly, but if she notices me watching her she'll pretend that she's about to look, just to see if she can get me going!


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