Montessori Lessons

This page offers information about some of the materials used in the Montessori classroom and the activities in which your child will be involved. Young children classify the input to their senses from the world around them every minute of the day. The Montessori Materials help them to gain a deeper understanding of these impressions. By manipulating the materials a child gains a deeper insight into the nature of the lesson. Be sure to click on the topic buttons below to see samples of the learning materials.

Maria Montessori calls these materials “Materialized Abstractions.”


“There is nothing in the intellect which was not first in some way in the senses” -Aristotle

Young children classify the impressions they get of the world around them every minute of the day. The Montessori Materials help them to gain a deeper understanding of these impressions. An abstract idea that appears in the human brain appears only in direct physical contact with materials. By touching the material, it gets settled in the “muscle mind”, giving the child the possibilities of a deeper understanding of it. Maria Montessori calls these materials “Materialized Abstractions”.

Ten pink wooden cubes which range from a large cube (1 cubic decimeter) to a very small cube (1 cubic centimeter) make up the pink tower.  Children learn to see and feel the concept of decreasing size in three dimensions.  Often a child will experiment with alternate ways to assemble this work.

The Brown Stair and the Red Rods

Similar in concept to the pink tower, the brown stair and the red rods demonstrate more sophisticated concepts of size and dimension.

The Brown or Broad Stairs are ten wooden prisms increasing in square cross-section by one centimeter.
The Red Rods (which vary in length from 10 cm to 1 meter) require the child to align one end of each rod to see how each rod increases in size. Here the child begins to see the concept of unit measurement as each rod increases by the length of the smallest rod.
Knobbed Cylinders - A familiar sight in any Montessori early childhood classroom is the knobbed cylinders.  There are four different sets of knobbed cylinders, each varying in dimensional characteristics.  The child learns to discern between subtle variations in width, breadth, depth and height by removing the cylinders and replacing them in the proper slots. This activity provides a clear example of  the concept of control of error.  If the child places any cylinder in the wrong slot, it will be impossible to complete the task without correcting his mistake.  The knobs require small muscle coordination similar to the skill of holding a pencil.
Knobless Cylinders - Like the knobbed cylinders, the knobless cylinders challenge the child to differentiate objects of increasing dimension.  Four sets of knobless cylinders provide the child with different dimensions to evaluate.  These cylinders are more challenging and abstract than the knobbed cylinders.  The control of error is reduced since the child does not have individual slots to insert each cylinder.  He must determine the correct pattern solely through comparison.
Color Tablets - Introduces color and refines the chromatic sense. This work begins with simple matching to the grading of shades dark to light in nine different color.
The Sense of Touch - Rough and Smooth boards and gradation tablets of sandpaper prepare the child’s sense of touch. The fabric box is a wooden box containing matching swatches of a selection of different fabrics. Experimentations with these fabric samples stimulate the child’s interest in texture in the environment, particularly of different fabrics.
Baric Tablets - A boxes with 3 sets of wooden tablets made from different types of timber which vary in terms of weight. This stimulates the child’s interest and awareness in weight difference.
Thermic Sense (temperature) - A wooden box containing two tablets each made of felt, wood, steel and slate. This activity enables the child to become aware of the differences in the tactile temperature of materials with different thermal conductivity in our environment.
Sound Cylinders - Building auditory skills is an integral part of the Montessori curriculum.  The sound cylinders come in two sets of six hollow cylinders that are color coded blue and red.  The child chooses a blue cylinder and tries to match the sound it makes with one of the red cylinders.  The materials inside the cylinders are chosen to make louder or softer noises when shaken.  By using the sound cylinders, children learn to distinguish subtle changes in volume.

Binomial & Trinomial Cube

Exploration and visual discrimination of color and form as well as indirect preparation for algebra takes place with these exercises. Although children are not yet ready to learn algebraic equations, they can see through this set of three dimensional blocks what happens when this equation is solved.  Although this activity is much more abstract and complex than some of the earlier activities, it too has a color coded control of error to allow the child to correct her own mistakes in assembling the cube.

Binomial cube is contained in a wooden box with 8 wooden cubes and prisms painted red, blue and black. The binomial cube introduces in a simple geometric set of blocks, the algebraic equation (a+b) squared.
Trinomial cube is contained in a wooden box with 27 cubes and prisms painted red, blue, yellow and black.  The algebraic equation (a+b+c) squared.
The beginning of the introduction of geometry is a wooden cabinet containing 6 trays of 4 to 6 different geometrical knobbed insets & 3 sets of Geometric cards. Introduces the child to regular, flat, geometric shapes. It also develops an awareness of shapes in the environment as well as learning the vocabulary of different shapes
Constructive TrianglesThis material gives the child a practical experience with plane geometry and is a preparation for future work in math.