At Arbor View Montessori we use Sensorial Materials in the Montessori classroom that increases children’s awareness help the child’s impression, which brings the child order and knowledge; and helps him or her to become aware of details by offering contrasted sensations. An example would be the difference between red and blue, and then variously graded sensations, such as many different shades of blue. The material enables the child to know what is red, what is blue, and then to understand the abstraction of blueness and finally the abstraction of color itself.
The Montessori Sensorial Materials help the child to distinguish, to categorize, and to relate new information to what he or she already knows. Dr. Montessori believed that this process is the beginning of conscious knowledge. It is brought about by the intelligence working in a concentrated way on the impressions given by the senses. For instance, each of the sensorial materials isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound, smell, etc.
Montessori educational materials emphasize this one particular quality by eliminating or minimizing other differences. Dr. Maria Montessori called this material, "materialized abstractions," because each piece isolates whatever it is trying to bring it to the child’s attention. Here in another example; sound boxes are all the same size, same shape, same color, and same texture; they differ only in the sounds which are made when the child shakes them. We make it our responsibility at Arbor View Montessori Preschool and child care to build a foundation of the child’s intellectual and physical abilities by using exercises graded by their degree of difficulty.
Only when this indirect preparation has taken place, when the child has mastered all the component parts of an exercise, can the child expertly master the exercise and move on to the next activity. Therefore, not only the right material, but also the right time in the child’s development has to be chosen.
Here are some examples of Montessori Material:
- The Pink Tower – Teaches graduation in sizes
- The Brown Stair - Introduces the child to difference in size in two dimensions
- The Red Rods - Help the child to recognize differences in size in one dimension – length. This gives the child a sensorial basis for learning to count when he or she begins mathematics.
- The Smelling Jars - Smelling Jars consist of two sets of small jars. The child pairs jars by carefully smelling each jar. The teacher also builds the child’s vocabulary by teaching the names of foods he or she smells.
- The Color Tablets - In this exercise the child pairs color tablets and learns the corresponding names. This is a simple exercise used for the very youngest children in the class.
- Grading the Colors - For the next step the child learns to differentiate eight different shades of eight different colors. The shades of each color are graded from very light to very dark.
- The Sound Boxes - To help children become more aware of types and different intensities of sound.
- The Geometric Solids - The set includes the cube, the cone, the cylinder, the pyramid, the rectangular prism, and the triangular prism. The children learn to recognize these shapes by handling the solids, looking at them, and playing games where they try to identify the shapes.
- Sensorial Preparation for Writing - Many of the sensorial exercises are a remote preparation for academic learning. For example, the child who has learned to listen carefully will be able to perceive subtle differences in the sounds of the letters. To be able to write, a child will commit to memory the shape of the letters and their corresponding sounds. In addition, he or she must develop the muscular skill necessary for using the pencil with control.
- Sandpaper Letters – With a letter that is made of sandpaper the child will trace the letter with two fingers following the same direction in which the symbol is normally written. The child sees the shape, feels the shape, and learns the sound of the letter which the teacher repeats when introducing it.