Montessori materials are versatile in the skills they encourage and there is no better example of this than the Cylinder Blocks used in many of the early sensory-based lessons, which a child will come into contact with in a Montessori classroom. Cylinder Blocks teach sizing, dimension and matching but also prepare children for writing (pencil grip, refinement of voluntary movement) and mathematics.
There are four Cylinder Blocks that form the crux of the lesson, each containing 10 cylinders with a knob to assist easy removal. The first two blocks in the series are the easiest for little ones to decipher, with cylinders that vary in height, length and width. The cylinders in Block 3 have only two differences (length and width) and the cylinders in Block 4 differ only in height – making the puzzle less obvious and thus more complex.
When demonstrating how to use the Cylinder Blocks, directresses will remove the cylinders from the block, placing them in front of their corresponding holes – not necessarily in sequence. The cylinders are then placed back in their holes, again; out of sequence. Once the child has been shown what to do, he/she is free to work with the blocks independently.
Have a look at the following tutorial, which focuses on the first of the Cylinder Blocks:
The principles demonstrated in the use of Block 1, as shown in the video, are the basis for the manner in which all the blocks are used. If the block has been presented at the correct age, the child will have difficulty replacing cylinders. Directresses will not interfere as little ones work out how to use the materials because the Cylinder Blocks are designed to be self-correcting. Through trial and error children will learn to gauge size.
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Image Attribution: Montessorium.com