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Montessori Sensorial Materials

Montessori Materials Practical LifeFor 2 ½ to 3 years before entering the Montessori Children’s House, the child’s senses have been flooded with a myriad of unclassified impressions. We do not , therefore, bring to the child new impressions, but bring an order and system to the impressions he has already received and which he continues to receive. Each material in the sensorial area helps the child’s senses, and therefore his mind, to focus on one particular quality. Montessori agreed with Aristotle’s concept in that “We have no other possible means of distinguishing objects than by their attributes.” These attributes are obvious to us through our senses.

Through the materials, the child reaches ‘materialized abstractions.’ Because the child works with the material day after day, he eventually draws out of the material the very essence of the concept it is designed to impart. Thus, the child arrives HIMSELF at the abstraction, for it is something only he himself can do.

In presenting concepts such as large, small; deep, shallow; heavy, light; long, short; as well as colors textures, tone and pitch, the child has the opportunity to discriminate as the concept being taught is isolated: i.e., ten long rods are different only in length. Concrete manipulation of materials later becomes abstract thinking, as comparative and superlative language is added to these exercises.

These sensorial foundation are the prerequisites of intellectual life and of the ability to build abstract thinking. In the process of abstraction, Montessori says it depends upon three factors”

  1. The child must have reached a certain maturity of mind.
  2. Absolute clarity in the concrete.
  3. Abstraction: the law of least resistance and effort.