198 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
ric figures with extreme facility and places the insets with a security which has a tinge of nonchalance, or of slight contempt for an exercise that is too easy. This is the moment in which the child may be led to a methodical observation of the forms. We change the forms in the frame and pass from contrasted frames to analogous ones. The exercise is easy for the child, who habituates himself to placing the pieces in their frames without errors or false attempts.
The first period of these exercises is at the time when the child is obliged to make repeated trials with figures that are strongly contrasted in form. The recognition is greatly helped by associating with the visual sense the muscular-tactile perception of the forms. I have the child touch* the contour of the piece with the index finger of his right hand, and then have him repeat this with the contour of the frame into which the pieces must fit. We succeed in making this a habit with the child. This is very easily attained, since all children love to touch things. I have already learned, through my work with deficient children, that among the various forms of sense memory that of the muscular sense is the most precocious. Indeed, many children who have not arrived at the point of recognising a figure by looking at it, could recognise it by touching it, that is, by computing the movements necessary to the following of its contour. The same is true of the greater number of normal children; — confused as to where to place a figure, they turn it about trying in vain to fit it in, yet as soon as they have touched the two contours of the piece and its frame, they succeed in placing it perfectly.
* Here and elsewhere throughout the book the word " touch " is used not only to express contact between the fingers and an object, but the moving of fingers or hand over an object or its outline.