Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Presence of Mindfulness in Montessori: Sensorial

"The development of the senses indeed precedes that of superior intellectual activity and the child between three and seven years is in the period of formation. We can, then, help the development of the senses while they are in this period."  Maria Montessori - The Montessori Method, Chapter14

I may be stating the obvious when mindfulness is present in the Sensorial area in a Montessori environment. In the book Teaching Meditation to Children, by Fontana and Slack includes an exercise called Kim's Game.  This is a game that is suitable for young  children and very fun to play during your Parent Meetings. What you will need is various objects such as a pencil, spoon, cup, apple, flower, etc. placed on a tray. Place the objects on a tray and cover with a piece of fabric or towel. With a small group of children show them the materials for a limited time. The more objects on the tray, the more time. Cover the tray. The children will then tell or write down as many materials they can remember. After a few attemps, they will improve rapidly. 

The sensorial materials were created to help children in the process of creating and organizing their intelligence. Montessori scientifically designed materials that isolate a quality found in the world such as color, size and shape. The child, through repeated manipulation of these objects, comes to form clear ideas, abstractions and provokes "auto-education". What could not be explained by words, the child learns by experience working with these self correcting sensorial materials. The Sensorial materials are esthetically pleasing and attracts a child with ease. They aid a child in a better understanding of his environment and given the knowledge not by "words" but by his experiences. It includes using the child's hands, senses, and spontaneous activity.

Montessori writes that Sensorial materials are more like "games" where it gathers children to take turns in guessing. "Sometimes the children spontaneously make use of the blindfold, taking turns, and interspersing the work with peals of joyful laughter." Montessori, The Montessori Method p. 187

Isolation of the Senses with Sensorial Materials
Visual: Montessori broke the visual sense down into separate sections.
·       Dimension (size of the object): Montessori Materials are the Pink Tower, Brown Stair, Red Rods, Knobbed Cylinders, and Knobless Cylinders.
·       Color/chromatic (awareness of color): Montessori Materials are the Color Box 1, Color Box 2 and Color Box 3.
·       Form (awareness of shapes): Montessori Materials are the Geometric Solids, Geometry Cabinet, Binomial Cube, Trinomial Cube, and Constructive Triangles.
Auditory: Sound Cylinders and Bells.
Tactile: Montessori broke tactile in four areas:
  • Surface touch: Touch boards, Touch tablets
             and Fabrics.
  • Stereognostic (whole form, volume): Geometric Solids, Sorting Trays, Mystery Bag.
  • Thermic (temperatures): Thermic Tablets and Thermic Bottles.
  • Baric (differences in weights): Baric Tablets
Olfactory (smell): Smelling Bottles
Gustatory (taste): Tasting Bottles


  1. Some of these materials are must have's and will have to be purchased, while some can be easily handmade. Check out Living Montessori Now's recent post....

  2. Counting Coconuts recently posted a "Must-have" Montessori material list...

  3. Great post, Ann! Thanks for linking to my post! And that's a wonderful resource from Counting Coconuts! It's always nice to know which materials are favorites of specific children. It really does vary from child to child. Deb @


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