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The Montessori Thermic Tablets: Purpose and Presentation

Sensorial activities in Montessori are some of the most interesting for children. Focusing on one sense at a time is both fun and captivating.

The Montessori Thermic Tablets is a Montessori sensorial material that, if you are new to Montessori, you may not have heard of before.

It's not a material you will see posted on social media a lot, as it's not as popular of a homeschooling item as some of the other Montessori materials. It's actually a pretty nifty material, though.

In this article, you will learn what the Thermic Tablets are in Montessori. You will also learn how to present this material and get some extension activity ideas.

image of slate, as material used in the Montessori Thermic Tablets.

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What are the Montessori Thermic Tablets?

The Montessori Thermic Tablets are a sensorial material that is designed to isolate and refine a child's thermic sense, or sense of temperature. This is one of the 9 senses Montessori focuses on.

The Thermic Tablets material consists of a wooden box containing six pairs of tablets made of different materials. The materials of the tablets are typically as follows:

  • cork (warmest)
  • glass
  • felt
  • wood
  • steel
  • slate (coolest)

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This is a fascinating activity for children because there is no outside force causing the tablets to differ in temperature.

This opens up conversations about what each tablet is made of and why they don't all seem to have the same temperature.

The Thermic Tablets activity is a great catalyst for age-appropriate conversations about sensory perception and the conductivity of different materials, as these tablets' temperatures do not actually differ from one another.

Aims of the Thermic Tablets

  • to help a child discriminate temperature

Indirect aims

  • the development of control of movement
  • aids in the development of visual discrimination

Control of error

  • the appearance of the tablets
  • the textures of the tablets

Points of interest

  • the various temperatures
  • the variety of textures
  • how each tablet looks

How to present the Montessori Thermic Tablets

It is often helpful to introduce children to four, or even two, pairs of Thermic Tablets during the first presentation.

Just as with many of the other tactile Montessori activities, you and the child should wash hands prior to beginning.

  • Ask the child to carry the Thermic Tablet material to the table.
  • Take the lid from the box and put the material in the top left corner of the workspace. (You may place the box on the lid, as to not have extra things to distract the child.)
  • Remove a tablet from the box and show the child how to carefully handle the tablet by holding it by its edges. (As not to change its temperature.)
  • Take one from each tablet set of material types and arrange them randomly in a column to the left side of the workspace.
  • Arrange the remaining tablets in the box randomly in a column to the right side of the workspace.
  • Say to the child that you are going to pair the tablets based on their temperature.
  • Touch your hand to the bottom tablet on the left side of the workspace and your right hand to the bottom tablet on the right side of the workspace.
  • Going up the right-hand column, touch each tablet until you find the match. (Your left hand should remain on the bottom left tablet.)
  • When you get to its match, say, “The two have the same temperature. This is a pair.”
  • Place the matching pair next to each other at the top of the workspace.
  • Continue with this process until all tablets have been matched up.
  • Again, arrange the tablets randomly in 2 columns and invite the child to try the activity. If they make an error, simply have them try again.

Montessori Thermic Tablets extension activities

  • stereognostic exercise (blindfolded)
  • have the child order the tablets from coolest to warmest and warmest to coolest

The Thermic Tablets in Montessori is a very interesting material for children.

Following the material activity, you may find that the child goes around the classroom or home touching various objects and comparing their temperature to one another, and commenting on why they might feel different.

Instilling curiosity and the love of learning is a Montessori mainstay, after all.

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