An Introduction to the Sensorial Life of the Child in a Montessori Classroom

In the same way all of the materials in the practical life area are intended to assist the child in the development of order, coordination, concentration, and independence, the Sensorial area assists the child by refining his senses, developing his ability to make comparisons and judgements, stimulating his cognitive development and by enabling the directress to discover and respond to differences in learning early on. Consisting largely of artificial objects and sets of objects designed to isolate the specific characteristics of all things which the child might on day encounter in the real world, the sensorial materials serve primarily to foster an increased capacity to differentiate and categorize the world in a specific and conceptually proper way. As Maria Montessori put it:

"With the gradual emergence of knowledge and volition, it becomes imperative to establish some order and clarity within the mind and to distinguish what is essential from what is accidental. (DOTC, Montessori, 100)"

Avoiding random and meaningless differences which confuse the child and obfuscate his purpose, materials such as the Pink Tower and the Brown Stair maintain one differentia--size and width, respectively--which vary while all other characteristics remain exactly the same. This proper ordering of objects and qualities will prove to be essential to the child’s concept development later on.