Matching, sorting, grading…
These three terms get a lot of use in Montessori classrooms. How come? Most Montessori activities are set up so that children can create order. Matching, sorting, and grading (or sequencing) are all ways in which this can be done. Have you ever seen photos of those pink blocks (most often referred to as “the pink tower”)? This, and other materials like it, require children to exercise their senses (sight, touch, hearing… and even smelling and tasting!) to create order. These are known as Sensorial materials.
Guess what? You can buy or make your own Sensorial materials! When putting together a Sensorial activity for your child, keep these characteristics in mind:
Matching, sorting, or grading. A true Sensorial activity will require a child to complete one of these tasks. Here are some examples: memory games (matching!), shape sorters (sorting!), and nesting or "Russian" dolls (grading!).
10 or fewer. Many classical Montessori materials (like the pink tower) have 10 pieces, as this reinforces our base-10 number system. Having 10 or fewer pieces keeps the activity from getting too complicated and makes it easier to see if a piece has gone missing. For infant activities, I usually include no more than five pieces.
One obvious attribute. Height, thickness, color, sound, texture… there are so many possible attributes to base an activity on. Try to choose just one. If there’s too much going on (different colors, different sizes, different shapes), your child may not know what to do!
Control of error. This means that the activity has feedback built into it, allowing the child to correct any mistakes independently. Here’s an example: a set of nesting cups will not fit together unless they are in the correct order.
Here are a few examples of Sensorial activities to get you started. And, as always, check out my Pinterest board for even more ideas.
PS. Want to read more about Sensorial curriculum? Take a look here.