The Sensorial area is where you’ll find many puzzles, blocks, and other familiar materials found at typical preschools. Sensorial in Montessori is where children refine their powers of observation, acquire a rich vocabulary to describe the world around them, and learn to problem-solve.
For example, knobbed cylinders, a very simple material, offer many different teachable skills:
Fine motor skills. Notice that the blocks have small knobs at the top. The teacher shows the child how to grip the knobs with their three writing fingers. As the child removes and replaces these cylinders over and over again, they strengthen the fingers they will later need for writing.
Left-to-right progression. The teacher shows the child to always proceed from left to right as they place the cylinders. Applied to many activities, this automates the left-right movement necessary for reading
Differentiation of size. The cylinders vary in size. While children initially complete the exercise with eyes open and with trial and error, they soon are able to look at a cylinder and place it in its proper spot. In fact, 5-year-olds are often able to put all four blocks together, and complete this exercise blindfolded, with amazing speed and accuracy!
Montessori children learn to observe carefully and to name what they perceive. They become in tune with all their senses and relish using their newfound powers in the real world.