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.

Montessori Geometric Solids as a Sensorial Material

This is the first activity suggested in David Gettman’s book.  The main objective here is to create a 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.

We worked 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.

Exploring the Shapes Thru Touch

Exploring the Shapes Thru Touch

The second activity aims to show the child that you can place the solids together, in ways where 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.

Combining Shapes

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).

Combining Shapes

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 about the relationships of the geometric solids (3D) to their 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.

Matching the 3D shapes to their 2D bases

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 hit or miss.

Sorting the Families of Shapes

After some activities and explorations, I introduced the names of the shapes 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.


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



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.

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 sand.  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 they can create.



He obviously loved the sphere!  He noted that it didn’t make any shape in the sand at all.


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

Playing 3D Objects with Kinetic Sand

As an extension activity to the Montessori Geometric Solids you might want your child or students to learn more about the geometric shapes thru their real life counterparts. You can check the Real Life 3D Shapes Learning Pack from my shop to help you with this extension activity.

Real Life 3D Shapes Learning Pack
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.

Amazing blogs participating in the 12 Months More of Montessori that you should visit:

Montessori Baric Tablets | Welcome to Mommyhood


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