Overview of the Primary Montessori Sensorial Program

We are providing you with an overview of the Primary Montessori Sensorial Program so that you have a better overall picture of the progression of materials and lessons.

Since a child naturally uses all his powers of observation during his early years, Dr. Montessori felt this was the ideal time to give the child equipment which would sharpen his senses and enable him to understand the many impressions he receives through them. 

The sensorial materials in the Montessori classroom help the child to become aware of details by offering her, at first, strongly contrasted sensations such as red and blue, and then variously graded sensations such as shades of blue. The material enables her to know what is red and what is blue, then to understand the abstraction of blueness, and finally the abstraction of color itself.

Isolation of Quality

Each of the sensorial materials isolates one defining quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound, smell, etc. The equipment emphasizes this one particular quality by eliminating or minimizing other differences. Thus, the sound boxes are all the same size, shape, color, and texture; they differ only in the sounds made when a child shakes them.

Sensorial Impressions

It is possible for adults, as well as children, to receive any number of sensory impressions and be none the richer. Sense impressions are not enough by themselves; the mind needs education and training to be able to discriminate and appreciate. Montessori materials help the child to distinguish, to categorize, and to relate new information to what he 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.

Sensorial materials are self-correcting to allow independent use, they foster muscular development which lays the foundation for writing skills, and they are produced to precise metric tolerances. Correct terminology (binomial cube, isosceles triangle) and mathematically exact relationships enrich the child's experience so that abstract concepts may attach to familiar reality.

Sequence of Montessori Sensorial Activities

Before beginning you must observe the child, know what kind of activities they are drawn to, what they shy away from, and understand their current skills and abilities. Not all children will be capable of each activity in the order it is shown below. The order below is a guideline only - not a steadfast rule. You might choose to present a cylinder block, color tablets Box 1, and the touch boards within a day or two (depending on your classroom situation), then move on to the pink tower if your child is showing interest. A child may progress more rapidly through one area of the sensorial materials than the others.

It is possible to skip over certain activities as long as the next activity the child chooses does not require knowledge/skill that the child does not yet have.  The key is to follow the child and offer appropriate activities according to their abilities. The goal is always to set the child up for success. That's not to say that the child won't have to work through an activity and repeat it over and over again before being successful. The child needs to be adequately prepared for the activity, physically and mentally.

Discrimination of Size

  • The Cylinder Blocks
  • Pink Tower
  • Brown Stair (Broad Stair)
  • Red Rods (Long Rods)
  • Knobless Cylinders
  • Binomial Cube
  • Trinomial Cube
  • Small Metal Insets
  • Decanomial Square

Discrimination of Color

  • Color Tablets - Box 1
  • Color Tablets - Box 2
  • Color Tablets - Box 3

Discrimination of Shape

  • Geometry Cabinet
  • Geometry Cabinet Cards
  • Constructive Triangles

              Rectangular Box A
              Rectangular Box B
              Triangular Box
              Large Hexagonal Box
              Small Hexagonal Box

  • Superimposed Geometric Figures
  • Botany Cabinet

Tactile Sense

  • Touch Boards
  • Touch Tablets
  • Fabrics

Baric Sense

  • Baric Tablets

Thermic Sense

  • Thermic Bottles
  • Thermic Tablets

Stereognostic Sense

  • Geometric Solids
  • Mystery Bag
  • Progressive Exercises

Gustatory Sense

  • Tasting Bottles

Olfactory Sense

  • Smelling Bottles

Auditory Sense

  • Sound Boxes
  • The Bells
  • Writing Music - Green Boards
  • Reading Music - White Boards
  • Listening to Music
  • Musical Instruments
  • Rhythm
  • Walking on the Line to Music
  • Dancing

If you are homeschooling your child or wish to introduce your primary students to the Montessori method of sensorial experiences you can purchase our Primary Sensorial Teaching Manual. It includes theory and step-by-step directions on the presentation of each lesson.

Montessori Sensorial materials - Montessori Print Shop
overview of the primary Montessori sensorial program - Montessori Print shop
Printable Montessori Materials for Canada
Printable Montessori Materials for USA