The Brown Stair (also called the Broad Stair) is a series of ten graduated, wooden prisms all the same length but different heights. As a grading activity that helps visual acuity, the Brown Stair is important in early mathematics and sensory training, encouraging an understanding of size and spatial awareness. As with most Montessori apparatuses, the Brown Stair is also great for developing co-ordination and fine motor control.
How it works: children are required to place the prisms in order, from thickest to thinnest, creating a stair pattern. The smallest is prism for control of error, whereby the child will check that the height of the steps is uniform, thus identifying any fault in the pattern.
Watch the below tutorial by Wonderful World of Montessori to see how the Brown Stair is used:
As shown in the lesson, the Brown Stair activity introduces concepts of width and height. The sensorial part of the activity, whereby children feel the weight and size of the prisms, enables the realisation that whilst the length of the prisms is the same, the width and the weight varies.
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