Montessori Sensorial Materials - Scope and Sequence

Since a child naturally uses all his powers of observation during his early years, Dr. Montessori felt this was the ideal time to give the child equipment which would sharpen his senses and enable him to understand the many impressions he receives through them.

The sensorial materials in the Montessori classroom help the child to become aware of details by offering her, at first, strongly contrasted sensations such as red and blue, and then variously graded sensations such as shades of blue. The material enables her to know what is red and what is blue, then to understand the abstraction of blueness, and finally the abstraction of color itself.

Each of the sensorial materials isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound, smell, etc. The equipment emphasizes this one particular quality by eliminating or minimizing other differences. Thus, the sound boxes are all the same size, shape, color, and texture; they differ only in the sounds made when a child shakes them.

It is possible for adults, as well as children, to receive any number of sensory impressions and be none the richer. Sense impressions are not enough by themselves; the mind needs education and training to be able to discriminate and appreciate. Montessori materials help the child to ... Read the entire article.

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  • 11/17/2010 1:48 PM The Activity Mom wrote:
    What a great resource your blog is! =)
    Thank you for sharing!
  • 3/10/2011 9:34 PM Lori wrote:
    Quick question...I had learned that the knobless cylinders came before the knobbed, but I see on your list it's the other way around. I guess I've been doing it wrong???
    1. 3/10/2011 10:02 PM Montessori Print Shop wrote:
      Hi Lori,

      A great question! I'm sure so many parents and teachers have wondered the same thing.

      I don't think it matters if a person has been AMI trained, AMS, NAMC, MACTE, or any other training ... knobbed cylinders have always come well BEFORE the knobless cylinders. The purpose of the knobbed vs. knobless is very distinct.

      Knobbed Cylinders - the 'direct' purpose is visual discrimination of size, and the 'indirect' purpose is preparation for writing (holding the knob with a pincher grip). The control of error with this material is inherent in the materials. It's mechanical - the large cylinder can't fit in the smallest slot. The child will eventually learn the direct purpose of this material all by themselves.

      The Knobless Cylinders are so much more intricate and complicated. While the ability to make beautiful patterns is easier (due to the surfaces being flat - no knob), the direct purpose of comparing surfaces is simply not appropriate for the young primary aged child  (2½+ years). There is no control of error and the size of the smallest cylinders (for yellow and blue), are a choking hazard.

      Both materials offer great learning opportunities, however the Knobbed Cylinders are clearly best suited to a child starting at 2½ years, while the Knobless Cylinders are meant for exploration of surfaces for children that are 4½ years and older.

      Hope that helps!


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