Maria Montessori was a trained scientist. Her ability to observe children’s behaviors and their responses to materials in classroom environments led to the development of Montessori Sensorial Education materials. Montessori understood that all learning comes through our senses. Most of the activities designed by Maria Montessori focused on training children to discern similarities and differences in size, shape, composition, weight, sound, taste, temperature, and feel.
For instance, the Pink Tower and Broad Stairs are both geometrically and mathematically perfectly proportioned cubes and rectangular prisms that change in size and stack on top of one another. Children learn the descriptive language to use with words like larger, smaller, longer, shorter. A teacher may ask the child to find “the next largest one” from the cubes remaining.
The Montessori sensory materials are designed to help children focus their attention more carefully on the physical world and their ability to discover subtle variations in the attributes of objects. The absolute beauty and joy of the Montessori sensorial materials are in fact the discovery that many of the materials have attributes in common or can be linked in some way. For example, the Pink Tower and Broad Stairs share common dimensions. The cubes have equal sides, the rectangular prisms have two equal sides and a third that is longer.
The pieces of various triangles in the triangle box match the pieces of the skittles in the fraction skittles.
- all of the sensory materials were designed with the same conceptual learning in place.
- all of the materials isolate one quality to be presented, explored and learned • all of the materials have control of error built in so children can make mistakes and learn from the mistakes to correct their work
- all of the materials are beautiful, they are attractive to children and children can manipulate with ease within their hands
- the teachers prepare the classroom making sure all materials are complete so children can work from beginning to end
- all of the materials can be extended with additional related activities
Through work with the sensorial materials at Montessori schools like Twin Parks Montessori, children are able to classify things around them and experiment with the environment. This work helps children organize their intelligence which leads to increased comfort and adaptation in the classroom, and in the world.