Behold here is eleven points for parents, teachers and facilitator to prepare before embarking onto Sensorial Activity!

Eleven Points in the Presentation of the Sensorial Materials

The materials are written without reference to the dynamic interaction between the children, the adult, and the materials. This was done for clarity . . . to isolate the difficulty, so to speak. They are written as though the adult were practicing with the materials.This approach serves the purpose of clarity of written presentation. It is important to consider in detail the dynamics of the child, material, and adult menage á trois.

The following outline brings a consciousness to the decisions the adult must make:

1. Matching Child to Material

J. McVicker Hunt, in the introduction to The Montessori Method, refers to the crucial role of the adult in matching the appropriate material to the child. Piaget refers to ‘accommodation/assimilation’ as the balance between that which the child has internalized and that which most appropriately might be presented to the child. The decision of ‘material-to-child’ match is a conscious decision of the adult, not an act of desperate

2. Invite the Child

Each adult develops a personal style for inviting a child to a presentation. This is both personal to the adult and, in some cases, child-specific. Some adults ask, “May I show you ____________?” while others state, “I will show you _________.” It seems appropriate to develop several approaches which can be child-specific, i. e., appropriate to the particular child being addressed. Again, this is a point of consciousness for the adult. The invitation and the form it takes has meaning.

3. Name the Material for the Child

Nomenclature frees the child and the adult to later identify and recall a material. (E.g.:  “I would like to present the pink cubes to you.”) or (“These are all Geometry cabinet. After I remove the insets, I will match the insets to the frame.”)

Invite the child

Invite the child

4. Locate the Material on the Shelf.

The child will need to know the location of the material on the shelf in order to return the material or to later find the material. Avoid an invitation with the material already in hand because the child will not know the location of the material on the shelf.

5. Procedure for Carrying the Material.



Such rules as carrying one item at a time and carrying the material with both hands is organically and logically demonstrated at this point.

6. Table or Rug

There are certain materials that clearly are taken to a table, such as the smelling, thermic, and sound cylinders. And, equally, there are certain materials which are taken to rugs, such as the pink cubes, brown prisms, and red rods. There are some materials that are discretionary, but consider in the decision:

(a) The Material Though the trinomial cube is usually placed at a table, this first choice would be passed by for a rug if the tables available for use cannot contain the pieces of the trinomial cube in its fully organized layout.

(b) The Child Technically, any material could be placed on a rug. But for a child that has poor concentration and organization skills the table helps to organize and insure focus. So, the choice of table or rug for a material depends upon the particular child’s ability to handle the greater freedom of a rug.

7. Positioning of Adult in Relationship to the Material and the Child

Traditionally, the adult’s position is to the right of the child during a presentation regardless of a table or rug selection. This allows for a natural flow of the material from left to right without the adult’s hands and arms covering over that which has already been laid out. However, there are several considerations that must be taken into account

.(a) Overview of the classroom being of paramount concern, a position for demonstration to the right of a child may make this impossible. Therefore, an alternative position may be considered to maintain an overview of the classroom.

(b) Mobility for quick movement back in the classroom may be quite difficult in the to-the-right-of-the-child tradition. Again, like overview, priorities are important.

(c) A group presentation may require a ‘backwards’ presentation if the adult faces the children. For example, the adult grades the pink cubes from largest to smallest from right to left from the adult point of view. From the children’s point of view the cubes are graded from left to right. A group demonstration often requires the adult position to be in front of the children and, therefore, a right to left and upside-down presentation. At the same time, teachers have reported that children can reverse a presentation that has been presented to a group from the adult viewpoint.

8. Name the Activity

Ausobel, the learning psychologist, has suggested the concept of advanced organizers.  An advanced organizer is a statement that indicates to the learner the broad goal of an activity.  Within the Montessori context, this means prior to demonstrating the pink cubes the teacher says, “I am going to grade the pink cubes from largest to smallest.”

9. Organizing the Material on the Table or Rug

The ability to organize a task spontaneously is one of the goals for the child in a Montessori environment. The child is in a sensitive period for order, but this sensitivity must find support in the environment. So, the adult must take care in the placement of the box or basket in the upper left corner of the table or rug, the placement of lids under boxes, the ‘random array’ placed in a line for ease in comparing one item to the other, etc. This consistency within and across materials lends predictability to a child upon approaching a new material. Predictability fosters freedom and success.

10. The Presentation

During a presentation the adult makes the choice of when the child may participate. This is so individually and intuitively calculated by the adult that little commentary is necessary.

11. Replace the Material

Reorder the material, carry the material appropriately to the shelf, and replace the rug if used. The child may undertake this process or may watch as the adult returns the material. Forethought in the above eleven points lends a smoothness of flow to the heart of the presentation. Disregard for these concerns detracts from the impact of the presentation. With practice these points are ‘incarnated’ and become the unconscious prelude to an effective presentation.

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