Montessori Geometric Solids as a Sensorial Material

Monday, June 12, 2017

I would like to introduce one of our favourite Montessori material at home: the geometric solids.  This has been on my bucket list for the longest time and I finally get to own one!  This is totally worth-it!  This material will introduce the child to the 3D objects and shapes, that will later on be helpful in the learning of geometry.  I listed below the progression of activities of the geometric solid intended to guide parents on how to use this material in case you own one or are planning to have one in the future.

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THE STEREOGNOSTIC EXPERIENCE

This is the first activity suggested in David Gettman’s book.  The main objective here is to create mental awareness of the shape through touch.  Start with three contrasting shapes like cube, sphere and cone and then once the child is familiar with these three shapes, you can change them with new ones.  In the picture below, this was the time when Vito is already exploring other objects since we already worked with the three basic ones.  I replaced our cone and added the cylinder because this is what he wanted to add in the basket. 

Work on each object thoroughly.  You might want to show the child how to explore the shape through touch, by pressing your hands on the object, touching the corners and edges and turning it over to compare the sides.  Once you’re done, you can now invite the child to do the same. 

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COMBINING SHAPES

This second exercise aims to show the child that you can place the solids together, in ways that either their sides can fit together or partly coincide.  Looking at the picture below, I showed Vito that some of the shapes perfectly fit (prisms), and the other’s don’t.  I didn’t name my structure but he told me that I made a castle LOL.

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I asked him to do the same, experiment on fitting the solids, and he gets annoyed whenever one shape won’t fit or roll (sphere).

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INTRODUCING THE BASES

Vito recognized and named all the base shapes, except for the triangles wherein he named them as big and small triangles.  In this activity, the child will learn the relationship of the geometric solids (3D) to 2D shapes using their bases.  I picked one solid first (cube) and asked Vito if he can place it on the bases to look for its match (the plane side).  He immediately recognized the square and he moved on to the sphere.  Now the tricky part is when we get to work on the prisms, cone and pyramid because they are composed of different planes that matches into multiple bases. 

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SORTING THE FAMILIES OF SHAPES

I actually loved this activity.  The goal here is to sort out the solids into three families:  with only plane surfaces, with some flat and curved surfaces and with only curved surfaces.  Vito got the curved surfaces right away, but the two families was a miss or hit. 

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NAMING THE SHAPES

After some activities and exploration, I introduced the names of the shape to Vito using the Geometric 3 Part Cards in a 3 period lesson.  The first time we worked on this, we only worked on 4 solids.  And as he progressed, I started adding up shapes until he can finally work on all the solids.

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The solids that he can name so far are sphere, cube, pyramid, cone and ovoid (he call it at times an egg).

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MYSTERY BAG/BASKET FOR STEREOGNOSTIC PERCEPTION

Another exercise for the solids is to play the mystery bag or basket game.   We worked on this a little but not that much since he can’t name all the solids yet.  We did a similar thing here with the stereognostic bag.  This is much more easier as the objects are small and manageable.


EXPLORING SURFACE PATTERNS

Vito loved this activity!  We used kinetic sand to create tracks from the solid objects.  I started with the cube, and showed him the track it created on the sad.  He breezily identified it as square.  He asked if he can try with the triangular prism, and he excitedly showed me the triangle mark on the sand.  He continued with the rest of the shapes, amazed by the different shapes it can create.

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He obviously loved the sphere!  He noted that it didn’t make any shape in the sand at all Open-mouthed smile

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He even attempted to recreate the solids by covering them with sand.

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We love our geometric solids, and yes, they are initially used as sensorial materials in a Montessori classroom.  Hope this post cleared up your questions on how this material is used in a Montessori environment.  If you have questions or clarifications, just leave a comment below.

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This post is part of the 12 Months More of Montessori which is hosted by Natural Beach Living and The Natural Homeschool.
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Amazing blogs participating in the 12 Months More of Montessori that you should visit:

Montessori Sensorial Materials Every Child Will Love | Natural Beach Living

Montessori Sensorial Album: Geometric Solids {Printable 3-Part Cards} | The Natural Homeschool

Seashell Color Matching {Easy-to-Prepare Variation of Montessori Color Box 3}| Living Montessori Now

DIY Montessori Tasting Bottles and Free Printables | Mama’s Happy Hive

Sensorial Learning at Home at 3-years-old | The Kavanaugh Report

Montessori Geometric Solids as Sensorial Material | The Pinay Homeschooler

| Sugar, Spice & Glitter

3 Easy DIY Montessori Mystery Bags | Uno Zwei Tutu

Montessori Baric Tablets | Welcome to Mommyhood


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