Cylinder Blocks

January 09, 2016
There are 4 Cylinder Blocks in the Montessori Sensorial area, with cylinders differing in height and diameter.

A child’s first encounter with a material from the sensorial area could very well be one of the four Cylinder Blocks. Each wooden block contains 10 cylinders with knobs, which even when sitting innocuously on the shelf, are enticing to the young child.

First, the guide is careful to show the child how to properly handle the cylinder blocks. With one hand on each end, they choose a table, and set the block down before untucking their chair.

Next, the child will take each cylinder out by the knob, examining the difference in height or diameter. Similar to other knobbed items in the classroom, the knobs prepare a child’s hand for holding a pencil.

Here’s how the blocks differ.
Block 1: The diameter increases from 1cm to 5.5cm
The height remains constant at 5.5cm

Block 2: The diameter increases from 1c, to 5.5cm
The height increases from 1cm to 5.5cm

Block 3: The diameter increases from 1cm to 5.5cm
The height decreases from 1cm to 5.5cm

Block 4: The diameter remains the same.
The height increases from 1cm to 5.5cm

The cylinder blocks inherently include a control of error. The child will be able to visually discriminate if a cylinder doesn’t correctly fit a chosen place, or will be left with more than one cylinder that doesn’t fit at the end of the work.

After returning the cylinders to their correct places, the child might choose to repeat the activity, or return the block to a shelf!

There are several extensions to the Cylinder Block material, progressing in difficulty as the child becomes more confident with the work. For example, a child might bring all four blocks to one table, arrange them in a rectangle, and proceed to take all the cylinders out, mix them up, and return them. A tough task with 40 cylinders!

No matter how a child interacts with the Cylinder Blocks, it’s consistently a favorite material in the Montessori classroom, and a joy for the young child.

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