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What are Montessori Sensorial Materials?

Montessori supports the idea that children learn best when their senses are involved. Maria Montessori developed her Method and materials with the idea that cognitive development could be aided when a child used their senses when learning the ideas that were presented to them. Montessori sensorial materials are utilized to aid in refining the senses for this level of learning.

Montessori sensorial materials explained

Maria Montessori's ideas on the importance of providing a sensory-based groundwork for learning were built on the work of Jean Marc-Gaspard Itard (1775-1838) and Edouard Seguin (1812-1880). Seguin emphasized the importance of education through physical activity and Itard emphasized developing discrimination of the senses by isolation.

Montessori sensorial materials build on these ideas. Dr. Montessori developed her sensory materials and trialed them at her Casa de Bambini in San Lorenzo to find that they work well in a prepared environment.

Sensitive periods and sensory materials

The sensitive period for learning through the senses is the first plane of development, from birth to 6 years old. This is the period of childhood where children absorb information in their surrounding. Sensory experiences enhance their learning during this time.

Dr. Montessori didn't limit her materials to the refinement of only the traditional 5 senses, but 9.

  • sight (visual)
  • touch (tactile)
  • hearing (auditory/acoustic)
  • smell (olfactory)
  • taste (gustatory)
  • thermic (temperature)
  • baric (weight)
  • stereognostic (higher brain function, tactile and muscular)
  • muscular (movement and posture)

Parent and caregivers looking to implement Montessori homeschooling may be wondering, “What are Montessori sensorial materials?” as they prepare their home, learning areas, and/or playroom. Above is an explanation and below is a materials list.

“The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.” 
? Maria Montessori

List of sensorial materials

It is important to know that every Montessori activity has a sensorial aspect to it. These activities and materials, though, isolate each sense for refinement.

  • Smelling Bottles (olfactory)
  • Montessori Bells (auditory)
  • Sound Cylinders (auditory)
  • Baric Tablets (baric)
  • Thermic Tablets (thermic)
  • Touch Fabrics (tactile)
  • Touch Boards (tactile)
  • Touch Tablets (tactile)
  • Constructive Triangles (visual)
  • Botany Cabinet (visual)
  • Geometric Form Cards (visual)
  • Geometric Cabinet (visual)
  • Color Tablets (visual)
  • Knobbed Cylinders (visual)
  • Cylinder Blocks (visual)
  • Pink Tower (visual)
  • Brown Stair (visual)
  • Long Red Rods (visual)
  • Geometric Solids (stereognostic)
  • Mystery Bag (stereognostic)
  • Silence Game (auditory)
What are Montessori materials, child using sound cylinders

Involving the senses in learning can be done easily at home, even if Montessori materials are not available to you. DYI Montessori material guides are available online.

Also, don't shy away from sensory bins for helping your child learn through their senses. While they are not a Montessori item, they can provide a fun way to further incorporate the senses into learning and play.

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