What is Montessori Preschool? Part 7

What is Montessori Preschool? The seventh installment in a multi-part series about the history, philosophy and teaching of Montessori education.


Montessori Learning Materials, Part 3—Sensorial: Exploring the world

Imagination can only be based in the senses. A sensory education prepares the child to perceive all the details and qualities of the objects that form the basis for all observations. These skills help us extract all the elements from the external world that we need to develop our imagination.”

--Maria Montessori


Sensorial materials in the Montessori classroom


A child explores the dimensions, colors and patterned designs of a binomial cube.


The world is made up of color, size, dimension, shape, sound, touch, taste and smell. The child lives in a world of senses. In order to reach developmental goals in the area of creativity, children need to be able to classify and describe their sensorial experiences. Through sight, touch, sound, taste and smell, the Montessori Sensorial materials enable the child to classify, clarify, and understand the world around him.


For example, the concepts of short and long are learned with the long red rods (pictured below) which are each a different length.



Similarly, the children experience the sensations of touch by using rough sandpaper and paper which is smooth. As a child progresses in his learning, he continues this lesson by using topographical puzzle pieces on which the continents are made of sand and the water is smooth, which teaches him to differentiate between water and land.





Experiencing topographical contrasts between rough land and smooth water.


Through the sensorial materials, the child gains knowledge and obtains the tools to understand and complete her own sensory exploration of the world: the shapes of leaves and flowers, geometric solids, three-dimensional topographical contrasts, map puzzles, and globes of different colors.




This boy is learning to differentiate geometric solid shapes through touch (notice his eyes are closed), simultaneously experiencing their form & weight.


The sensorial materials, in addition to allowing the child to classify and internalize

certain concepts like size, shape, color, taste and sound, also create the basis for developing other skills, such as music, math, and language. When tracing the letter “m” with his finger using a sandpaper letter, the child not only repeats the sound of letter out loud, he also feels it! Later on the muscles of the hand can recall these movements of tracing when the child writes the letter on paper.


Tracing a sand paper letter “o,” is one of many exercises in the Montessori classroom that help prepare children for writing with a pencil and paper.


The sensorial materials of Montessori become directly linked to the child’s sensory perceptions, so that the child’s learning becomes the natural result of his own wish to explore the world around him.


Stay tuned for the next installment about Montessori Materials—“Mathematics: From the Concrete to the Abstract.”


To see a Montessori preschool in operation, come visit Otoch Paal Community Center in Akumal Pueblo. Otoch Paal welcomes visitors who are interested in seeing how a Montessori center operates. Classes are in session from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visitors are asked to come between 9 and 10:30 a.m.

Please note: The school is closed for the holidays and will reopen January 7.


How you can help. As a non-profit community-based learning center, Otoch Paal does not generate sufficient funds to pay for all necessary school improvements. Monetary donations and donations in kind are always welcome. Donations can be made directly at the school.

Or more information can be found at: http://montessoriaroundtheworld.org/otoch.html/


The Rotary Club of Fort Collins, Colorado has already raised money for one new roof

but they are still working on raising funds for the second (and last) grass roof that needs to be replaced at Otoch Paal (for more information, read the Sac Be newsletter from September 2008). If you are interested in donating to the roof project, please contact Ron Rockvam at the email address below.

Are you part of a Rotary Club that wants to get involved? Contact Ron Rockvam of the Foothills Rotary Club at: dvantage@msn.com


Are you associated with a Montessori school that could donate used learning materials for the preschool/kindergarten classroom? Contact Eleonor Bermudez Ferrer, of Otoch Paal, at: leocancun@hotmail.com or Ellie Zucker, parent, at: elzucker@aol.com



Directions to Otoch Paal: The school is located near the back of Akumal Pueblo, on the Northern edge of the town. It can be reached by following the Pueblo’s main street (avenida) to the fourth block on the right hand side of the street. After passing the secondary and kindergarten schools (which are on the main street), turn right at the corner where the kindergarten is located and continue to the next corner. Otoch Paal is next to the kindergarten and the entrance is at the far corner, near the town’s edge.









Buy Playa Real Estate Advisors



Akumal Villas