Introducing the Sensorial Materials

Details of Sensorial Activities


The materials are


  • Made from aesthetically appealing, natural materials


  • Proportionate to the child


  • Their developmental purpose is simple and clear once the presentation is given


  • Scientifically designed, accurately and precisely formed.


  • The materials are unfamiliar to the child so they bring no external meanings, implications, distractions or ‘noise’.


  • Though the ‘essential property’ is an abstract quality it is embodied by the material, ‘made concrete’, isolated by the material itself attracting the child’s attention, the accidental ones are diminished, this enables the child to differentiate the essential from the accidental.


  • Limits
  • Each property is represented only once in the material, as the Absorbent Mind is already saturated by chaotic sensations


  • Each material is limited to that which is sufficient and necessary, to give maximum contrasts


  • The range of gradations in the property is sufficient to give an impression of it’s range of qualities, allowing a conscious decision making process to make discriminations between the qualities inherent in a property.


  • The difference between two gradations is uniform and wherever possible equal to the minimum/first object in the set.


  • The kinaesthetic aspect of the material allows the child to apply through movement the understanding she has of the property, by moving and comparing, pairing, sorting and categorising and applying the learnt terminology related to the object in the games.


  • The games allow the child to apply all of her intelligence, sensations, will power, motor ability and emotions to the material and associated vocabulary.


  • In the Children’s House the adult does not determine or correct ‘errors’, instead the child recognises her own error throughout the means given inherently in the material.  The challenge which the material invites her to overcome presents the ‘Control of Error’ as a further incitement to continue.  Sometimes this is purely ‘inbuilt into the material’, a Block B cylinder will not fit into a socket which does not correspond, alternatively it is ‘inbuilt into the child’s perception’, the child sees that a Block A cylinder has sunk deeply into the socket, this did not happen during the presentation, therefore something is amiss, and she looks for a better fit.  In either case it is the material not the adult which prompts the child to reexamine and repeat with greater concentration, gaining confidence in her skills of self-judgement.


  • The material provides necessary and sufficient language to hold the newly conscious qualities in the mind, with interest, allowing them to crystallise as abstractions.  Firstly, the child must gain interest and confidence handling the material, then the language is introduced in the ‘Three Period Lesson’ or ‘Name Lesson’.


  • Each material is designed to be lifted and held in one technical way, this is demonstrated by the adult, to best express the property of the material, it may be difficult at first for the child to do so, but the development of muscular strength will help to fulfil indirect aims to prepare for later activities.


  • Identities – similarities and differences


  • The materials show all the different ways in which the qualities of an object can;


  1. Identical – all qualities are the same
  2. Contrast – the qualities are shown at their extremes
  3. Similar – the quality is shown differing within three gradations
  4. Difference – the qualities are more than three gradations apart


  • Sensorial activities lay the foundations for later learning as in all fields of learning knowledge moves from concrete to abstract, especially in Mathematics (the decimal system in particular is made evident in the sensorial materials) and the Sciences (for purposes of classification) in the Humanities (chart, graphs, maps using scale) and in all aspects of language.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply