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The Importance of Sensorial Materials in Montessori Preschool

One of the things that set a Montessori preschool apart from normal daycare is the materials that are used in the classroom. In a regular daycare, children are usually given a variety of toys or educational games to keep them entertained throughout the day. In a Montessori preschool, however, the children are provided with unique learning materials that are designed specifically to foster sensorial development.

Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children began having sensorial experiences at birth. According to Dr. Montessori’s studies, as children grow up, they explore and learn by interacting with their environment through their senses.   This unique period in a child’s development happens between the ages of birth and six years old. To help children express, classify, and broaden their sensory experiences, Dr. Montessori designed the Sensorial materials.

The purpose of the Sensorial materials is to aid the child in refining the child’s pitch, temperature, and weight and is utilizing language in describing these qualities. These materials are an integral part of developing the whole child — directly building the “mathematical mind” and indirectly preparing for writing.

 

Below are some of the Sensorial materials used in a Montessori preschool.

Visual

  • The Pink Tower, the Brown Stair, and Red Rods are used to develop discrimination of differences in three, two and one dimensions respectively.
  • Cylinder Blocks (Knobbed Cylinders) are used to develop the child’s visual discrimination of size, which prepares the child for later work in math. Handling these knobbed cylinders also indirectly prepares and strengthens a child’s hand for writing. 
  • Knobless Cylinders develop a child’s visual discrimination of gradations of size in a series. The Knobless Cylinders also fine tune a child’s muscle coordination and sharpen concentration skills.
  • The Color Boxes come with matching, as well as gradient style color tablets that the children manipulate in order from darkest to lightest. This helps children identify colors and develop visual discrimination.
  • The Geometric Cabinet includes trays that contain insets of a variety of plane figures, which help children develop visual discrimination of shape as well as learn the names of the various figures.
  • Constructive Triangles are used to form plane figures and help prepare children for geometry by refining discrimination senses.  
  • Binomial and Trinomial Cubes develop a child’s appreciation for the beauty of form in three dimensions. The cubes also indirectly prepare the child for mathematical concepts involving the binomial and trinomial theorems. 

Tactile

Geometric Solids help a child develop the muscular-tactile sense as well as sharpen the visual perception of solid figures. Geometric solids also indirectly prepare a child for geometry and its language.

Touch Tablets, Thermic Tablets, Fabrics and Thermic Bottles develop a child’s tactile senses as they touch and feel varying degrees of roughness, softness, temperature, and texture.

Auditory

Sound Cylinders and Bells develop a child’s auditory sense as they learn to distinguish volume and pitch and become more sensitive to sounds in their environment.

Olfactory and Gustatory

Smelling Bottles and Tasting Bottles allow a child to discriminate one smell from another or one taste from another. The child then applies this knowledge to other smells or tastes in the environment.

Montessori Materials at MASS

At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, you will find an extensive collection of Montessori materials. Unlike your average daycare, Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs is focused on enhancing each child’s sensorial experience on a daily basis. We take extra care in providing the most age-appropriate Sensorial materials in each of our classrooms.

 

 

How Do We Meet Current Research Data? – Part 2: Ways to Create an Optimal Learning Environment

Today, we continue our series entitled How Do We Meet Current Research Data?, exploring how the latest brain and education research impacts curriculum and learning, with Part 2 of the series: Ways to Create an Optimal Learning Environment.

Facts may eventually become outdated, but the skills of thinking, making meaning, developing understanding, and problem solving never will. More important than the solution is learning how to solve a problem.

While workbooks are routinely used in many educational settings, many workbook tasks are not interesting, do not provide rich instructional possibilities, lack clear objectives, allow false-positive feedback, consume teachers’ time in scoring, and – most importantly – occupy time that can be otherwise spent teaching students things they do not already know. Worksheets tend to make reading a chore and create a feeling of drudgery and boredom for many children.

World-renowned developmental psychologist Howard Gardner advocates:

“The brain learns best and retains most when the organism is actively involved in exploring physical sites and materials and asking questions to which it actually craves answers. Passive experiences tend to attenuate and have little lasting impact.”

Therefore, an optimal learning environment includes many hands-on experiences, creating a process of active involvement with rich, meaningful content that is not simply focused on an end result.

Next Monday: Part 3 – How Children Can Participate in Their Own Curriculum Planning

Previous posts in this series:
How Do We Meet Current Research Data? – Part 1

Montessori Philosophy: How Do We Meet Current Research Data? – Part 1

Today, we begin a new series entitled How Do We Meet Current Research Data?, exploring how the latest brain and education research impacts curriculum and learning.

In order to promote positive outcomes for all young children, early childhood educators should implement curriculum that is thoughtfully planned, challenging, engaging, developmentally appropriate, culturally and linguistically responsive, and comprehensive. We need to create meaningful curriculum by replacing the three Rs (reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic) for the four Es: experience, extension, expression, and evaluation. The current trend is to emphasize the need for flexibility. The National Association for the Education of Young Children program standards recommend that curriculum planning should focus on promoting learning and development in the areas of social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive growth. Units should be based on themes that are interesting and developmentally beneficial for all children. The interests and passions of the individual child need to be taken into account when developing projects.

Next Monday: Part 2 – Ways to Create an Optimal Learning Environment

Other posts in this series:
Part 3 – How Children Can Participate in Their Own Curriculum Planning