Sensorial is an area of the Primary classroom that is uniquely “Montessori.” Many of the jobs hearken directly back to Dr. Montessori when she set up her original classroom for the benefit of the young, unattended children in the housing projects of Rome in the early 1900’s. Dr. Montessori could see the advantage of having children develop and refine their five senses. She also understood that if a child was presented with materials where they could check their work themselves, and know visually that the job was done correctly or incorrectly due to the precise way the materials were used, then their level of independence and self-confidence would increase. Dr. Montessori referred to this concept as the “control of error’’ and it has great significance throughout the classroom, and especially in the sensorial area.
As the child begins to explore the sensorial works, one of the first jobs introduced is called the pink tower. “The pink tower has ten pinkcubes of different sizes, from 1 centimeter up to 10 cm in increments of 1 cm. The work is designed to provide the child with a concept of small and big.” The child starts with the largest cube and puts the second-largest cube on top of it. This continues until all ten cubes are stacked on top of each other. The control of error is visual. The child sees the cubes are in the wrong order and the tower becomes unstable if a larger cube is placed on top of a smaller cube.
For instance, the brown stairs is made up of 10 sets of wooden prisms and introduces the concept of thin to thick. “Each stair is 20 cm in length and varies in thickness from 1 to 10 cm. When put together from thickest to thinnest, they make an even staircase.” After the initial pink tower and brown stair lessons are mastered, both materials can be used together forming interesting combinations.
Join us next week as we continue looking at the Sensorial part of a Montessori classroom.