Sensory learning is a vital part of life in Montessori education because it helps children become more logical, perceptive, and aware. The child is considered a “Sensorial Explorer” in Montessori philosophy after learning to perceive qualities through sensorial experiences. And we have had growing interest from parents in the sensory learning materials that are being utilized at Springdale Academy, an accredited Montessori school located in Hillsborough, New Jersey. This brings us to the second series of learning materials and today the star of the show is the famed Knobbed Cylinders.
Most of the Montessori materials have a built-in error-control system. In other words, it helps children identify their mistakes and correct them without adult guidance. The knobbed cylinders are the perfect example, as each cylinder only fits into a certain hole. The child realizes they have made a mistake when the cylinder in their hands does not fit into the hole on the wooden block. They then proceed to correct their error by determining which hole the cylinder should be placed in instead.
Designed by Dr. Montessori herself, knobbed cylinders are one of the first sensory materials introduced to students at the age of three at Springdale Academy. The children’s sense of touch and sight are engaged, as it serves as a prelude to math and writing activities that help them develop their fine motor movements. It is made up of ten different cylinders that fit into a specific hole on the wooden block and is presented in order of degree of difficulty, from the simplest to the most difficult. The cylinders have “knobs,” which are used by students to hold objects using their pincer grip.
The activity is started by the Springdale Academy’s teachers or Montessori guides, by showing the child how to take out each knobbed cylinder using only their thumb and two forefingers (the pincer grip), by grabbing the handle and placing it in front of the wooden block. This process is repeated from the largest to the smallest cylinders until all of the cylinders are removed from the wooden block. Following this, the teacher picks up the first cylinder and traces its base with the index and middle fingers. The same fingers are then used to trace around the wooden block’s matching hole. This is done slowly so that the children can follow the movement. After which, the cylinders are then placed into the correct holes until all of them have been replaced. The material is then offered to the students, while our teachers intervene only when necessary. As the children become familiar with finding the cylinder with the correct dimensions to fill each space, the activity is randomized in the order of removing, placing, and replacing the cylinders. Once their competency grows even further, more blocks are introduced, which enable them to engage in a higher level of brain function.
Though knobbed cylinders seem simple, there is so much more to them. It fosters the child’s ability to make distinctions in their immediate surroundings. Additionally, it teaches them about size and dimensions, vocabulary about superlatives and comparatives, practices left-to-right progression, and helps them develop problem-solving skills. It is an enjoyable Montessori matching game that cultivates achievement-oriented thinking. It’s no wonder we see so many smiling faces in our classrooms. If you are intrigued by the activity and want more details, get in touch with us or drop in for a tour of our school. Learning through fun awaits you and your child at Springdale Academy in Hillsborough, New Jersey.