Montessori Sensorial Materials
Maria Montessori believed that education in the early years would benefit from following the natural developmental stages of the child.
Right from birth, it is clear that a newborn is surrounded in a world full of sensation. As a baby develops, without thinking he takes on sensorial information from his environment.
This then goes on to affect his personality. Montessori sensorial materials aim to provide a stimulating environment, which should meet a child’s constantly changing needs.
Therefore, Montessori sensorial materials and not just educational, they also help to develop a child.
Dr Maria Montessori believed that intellectual development comes after educating the senses.
At birth, a child begins their path of education as they learn about the world in which they love, through their senses.
When a child hits around two and a half years of age and up to six years of age, they begin to organize the things that they have been taking in from birth.
The Differences between Montessori Sensorial Play and Sensory Play
To begin with, Maria Montessori created her curriculum before sensory play even came about.
Educators and scientists were aware that sensory stimulation was important but Dr Montessori’s view of training a child’s sensory abilities from a young age is revolutionary.
Montessori Sensorial Materials Explained
A child learns to make sense of their environment through their senses. They use their senses of taste, smell, sight, touch and sound.
Children are able to take on abstract information, become aware of their senses and organize and understand their environment by using the sensorial materials designed by Maria Montessori in the 1800s.
These materials all have a control of error, which allows a child to self-correct when working with the material.
This means that children are able to process information independently and discover an answer to a problem themselves.
Ultimately, Montessori sensorial materials teach a child to think independently using a logical approach. The materials include the five senses:
- Visual (sight)
- Olfactory (hear)
- Tactile (touch)
- Auditory (smell)
- Gustatory (taste)
As well as our other more complex senses known as:
- Kinesthetic (muscle memory)
- Thermic (temperature)
- Stereognostic (recognizing objects based on shape and size by touching)
- Baric (weight)
Examples of Sensorial Materials
A child will learn how to see the differences between objects that are similar and those that are different. Examples:
- Pink tower, Brown Stairs and Red Rods
These allow a child to be able to discriminate differences in one, two and three dimensions.
- Color boxes
A child can learn to match color tablets of various gradients. They can do this by ordering the color tablets from the lightest to the darkest.
This will help a child to learn their colors and enhance their visual discrimination.
- Cylinder blocks
A child can use these to develop their ability to discriminate by size. This then helps them with later work related to mathematics.
By handling these cylinder blocks a child also strengthens and develops their hand, which prepares them for writing.
With these activities, a child is provided with the opportunity to use their sense of smell and taste.
A child will try and work out different smells and tastes from one another and then use this information to learn more about their environment. Examples:
- Both smelling and tasting bottles give a child the opportunity to discriminate one particular smell from another particular smell or one particular taste from another particular taste. What the child learns can then be applied to other smells and tastes within their environment.
With tactile materials, a child will be able to learn through their sense of touch. Maria Montessori stated that an activity needs to focus on the feeling through the fingertips and especially on the right hand.
This way a child can really focus in on what they are feeling using only a small part of their body. Examples:
- Thermic tablets and touch tablets
These help to enhance a child’s tactile sense and provide children the opportunity to touch and feel textures that are soft or rough as well as different in temperature.
- Geometric solids
These allow the child to develop visual perception when it comes to solid figures as well as improve their muscular tactile sense.
Geometric solids also help a child to pick up the language related to geometry.
By using auditory sensorial materials a child will learn to distinguish between different sounds.
By doing this a child will become more aware of the sounds that surround them. Examples:
- Sound bells and cylinders
These help to enhance a child’s acoustic sense.
They provide a child of the opportunity to distinguish between pitch and volume and become aware of sounds within their environment.
Kinesthetic refers to the muscles. Kinesthetic experiences allow the children to be aware or to move.
This sense allows the use of every muscle in the body including small muscles in the face to the larger muscles in the legs. Examples:
- Linear movement, exercise related to muscle memory, upper/lower body control.
Using thermic sensorial materials a child learns how to perfect their sense of temperature. Examples:
- Thermic bottles, Thermic tablets and Thermic foot activity.
A child will learn to recognize objects by what they feel. In Greek, stereo means ‘solid’ and gnostic means ‘having knowledge’.
So it, therefore, refers to having knowledge that is solid not based purely on our visual sense.
This sense combines both the kinaesthetic sense and the sense of sight, which gives a child the ability to recognize, differentiate and detect objects that are 3D.
- Sorting trays and puzzles are examples of stereognostic sensorial materials.
A child will learn to feel the difference between the weight of different objects as well as the pressure of these objects.
When closing the eyes or using a blindfold, this sense will be even more sensitive. Examples:
- Scale activity and Baric tablets.