Maria Montessori developed the Sensorial materials in order to train the senses, i.e. Touch, Taste, Hearing, Smell, Sight, Stereognostic, Thermic, Baric and Weight. The Montessori Children learn by actually “doing”, allowing the hands on experience. The objective is to train the senses in order to allow the child to use them to their full potential. This helps the children to perceive the world and their environment through their senses thus giving them a complete picture which is one of the way to promote high order thinking.
The materials are also developed in such a way to create the basics of knowledge for the future. The Montessori children are learning things which they will be learning about later on in school. Therefore, when they come to do at a certain point; in their primary level, they will recognize and be familiar with, thus arousing the child’s interests.
The aims of the Sensorial material are to:
Refine the senses to the maximum – leading to discrimination between stimuli i.e. learning the differences.
- Extend concentration for longer periods of time.
- Further develop co-ordination and fine motor control, indirectly preparing the child for writing.
- Encourage judgment and decision making – making comparisons, classifications, telling the difference.
- To develop independence.
- To encourage the child to be creative.
“Sensorial training is of great importance in learning the basics of arithmetic.” Montessori has a wide variety of materials for this purpose, thus allowing the child to become familiar with numbers at an early age. The idea of quantity is inherent in all the Montessori arithmetric materials and the conception of identity and difference in the sensorial exercise is built up from recognition of identical objects and gradation of similar ones. The child is enabled, through repeated work, to learn the names of the numbers before grasping abstract conceptions. (Excerpts from “The Essential Montessori”).
Montessori believed the child gets their satisfaction from the material rather than praise, where the child will get reward from the activity itself. Maria Montessori has quoted “… if we look now at the sensorial apparatus which is able to evoke such deep concentration, there is no doubt that these apparatuses may be regarded not only as a help to exploring the environment but also to the development of the mathematical mind.