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The Montessori classroom has different areas that each have a different focus. The Sensorial Area of a Montessori classroom introduces concepts that focus on all five of the child’s senses. The purpose of the work in the Sensorial Area is to assist and prepare children to be logical, perceptive, and aware of their environment and world. It teaches such concepts as discrimination and order; visual discrimination in differences of dimension, width, length, size and color. Tactile works are used to determine variations in roughness and smoothness, just as in the works that determine varying tones using their auditory sense. Other works narrow in on the gustation or the ways in which we determine the basic of taste. There are many Sensorial works that focus on just one of the senses, where many of the works encompasses two or more of the senses. Like any of the other areas in a Montessori classroom, the works are placed and introduced in developing order; from concrete to abstract; and from simple to complex.
I have decided to discuss one of the “classic” Montessori Sensorial activities. The Knobless Cylinders are a staple in a true, authentic Montessori classroom. The work consists of four wooden boxes; each with a different colored lid. The colors of each box are red, yellow, green, and blue. Each box contains a set of ten cylinders in the designated colors. The red box contains red wooden cylinders that vary in diameter. The yellow box contains yellow wooden cylinders that vary in height and diameter. The green box contains green wooden cylinders that vary from height and diameter. The blue box contains blue wooden cylinders that vary in diameter.
The purpose of the Knobless Cylinders is to determine the differences in similar shapes. It also helps with hand eye coordination and small motor skills. I choose to add a bit of a “twist” to this classic Montessori work, and have added felt mats to use for each box. I found inexpensive felt mats in the corresponding colors, and when I introduced this work initially, I included the felt mat.
I personally feel that it gives the child another way of keeping their work area tidy, and keeps things nice and orderly. They must take each of the items to their rug individually, and begin with unrolling the felt mat first. They then open the box, and place it on top of the lid. they may then choose to order the cylinders, use the control cards, or build a tower. Once they are done with the work, they must take each of the items to the shelf individually, and make sure to roll up the felt mat as well.
I came across these felt mat years ago, and have used them faithfully ever sense. Sometimes, I find that it is ok to add to the Montessori works; as long as it is not a distraction or takes away from the purpose of the work. As long as the children enjoy using them as well, there is nothing wrong with adding a little fun and variety to a classic Montessori work.