Adventures with Montessori and Autism: Stereognostic Bag

The stereognostic bag is a fancy name for : A bag, blocks, don’t look and just feel the blocks, group like blocks. It is also called a mystery bag. In my mind, the idea is to refine the sense of touch and show the child how touch can be a benefit when identifying things, and to make them slow down and examine every part of an item. After sorting simple blocks, the book I am following (1) suggests putting coins or other objects in the bag and doing a guessing game.

There are a few ways to go about using the sereognostic bag with blocks. The book (1) said to use a blindfold. Ha ha ha ha ha!  That was a disaster. Beth accepted it one time for a short while and totally hated the blindfold after that. So now what?  I found this video online that said the children can try to find the two matching blocks and palm both, then draw the hand from the bag to reveal the match. That approach was a no go as well. It was just too difficult and even I had trouble doing it, so I shouldn’t expect Beth to do that.

I settled on a partially aided approach. I bought this bag (cheaper on ebay, and lined up one set, and had Beth find the other set by feel. I taught her she must keep her eyes on the set on the table, and try to use only feel to identify a pair.

This is an example of the teaching session:

This is Beth doing the activity alone.

I got smiles, I got independence, I got an understanding of how to use touch to identify objects, I got some increased focus. Score! I feel this can be a future fun “identify the object” game for us. But as for identifying coins, it has not worked out thus far. The method taught her to try to feel for the rough and smooth edges of coins and we attempted to use the size/roughness to connect to the coin name, etc, but she simply could not consistently identify the coin matches just by feel. In fact she has a terrible time sorting coins even with vision! So I am currently devising an “errorless” activity for sorting coins and I will write a quick post if that turns out to be of value. Moving on…


(1) This will be a quick and poorly edited series because things are happening fast and I just want to write it all down. My daughter is almost 7 years old and we are starting the Montessori program from the beginning using this book, you tube videos, and common sense alterations. We homeschool and do other standard K activities. Montessori is an attempt to fill in developmental gaps and increase independence. See this fellow blogger’s post on the division of the work into periods as outlined in David Gettman’s book: We are starting with period 1 activities (taken from the book), with adjustments of course:

Period One

  1. Practical Activities – pouring beans between two jugs, opening and closing containers; buttoning; buckling; other simple dressing frames; carrying and laying out floor and table mats; saying please and thank you; carrying a tray; lifting, carrying, and putting down a chair, sitting down and getting up from a chair at a table; climbing up and down stairs; walking on the line; folding, hanging clothes on a hook;  brushing hair; dusting

  2. Sensorial – Cylinder blocks; pink tower; box 1 of the color tablets; presentation tray of the geometric cabinet; sensitizing the fingers; touch boards; presentation of Geometric solids; stereognostic bags presentation

  3. Language – Classified pictures exercises; speech stages – I Spy; book corner and library

  4. Math – none

  5. Culture – land and water presentation

montessori book



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