“By multiplying sense experiences and developing the ability to evaluate the smallest differences in various stimuli, one’s sensibilities are refined and one’s pleasures increased. Beauty is found in harmony, not in discord; and harmony implies affinities, but these require a refinement of the senses if they are to be perceived. The beautiful harmonies of nature and of art escape those whose senses are dull.” ~Maria Montessori
The Sensorial area is one to which Maria Montessori gave a great deal of attention when preparing her method of education. She invented many Sensorial works that we still use today, such as the pink tower and the red rods, and her writings serve as guidelines for teachers and parents to put together their own Montessori-inspired Sensorial materials such as those shared here.
Certain principles must be upheld for a Sensorial material to be truly Montessori-inspired:
- The materials teach appreciation for the smallest differences in stimuli.
- Movement and repetition are required for completion, building the muscular memory.
- Variables are isolated: it may be sorting by color, or sorting by size, but never sorting by color AND size in the same exercise.
- The materials serve to associate precise terms with concrete objects.
I have put together a round-up of all the Sensorial activities already on this blog so you can find them all in one place. They are separated by category, with general age recommendations: Colors, Shapes, Textures, Scents, Size Differentiation, and Sensory Bins. Before you jump down to the comment section to angrily type a rebuttal — Yes, I know that sensory bins are not really Montessori and don’t meet the requirements listed above. However, I have found them to be great sources of sensorial experiences mixed with practical life skills and messy play, and my children love them. So I included them in my round-up. Most of these activities are DIY, while a few require precise Montessori materials that can be purchased online.
Colors — 18 months to 4 years
Please note that I have a post on Color Box 3 but not the first two boxes. Those are easily found by doing a Google search, and can be presented around 18 months.
Shapes — 18 months to 3 years
Textures — 12 months to 2.5 years
Scents — 18months to 4 years
Size Differentiation — 18months to 4 years
Sensory Bins — 6 months to 3 years