The Sensorial Curriculum is considered the second foundational pillar through which the child learns in the classroom, the first being the development of large and fine motor skills developed in the first pillar of Practical Life.
The Sensorial materials were designed to develop and refine the child’s senses. The kinesthetic and vestibular senses are developed through the movement of carrying the materials within the classroom, along with the use of blindfolds, walking on tiptoe, and around and through both the rugs and materials. A great example of this is the use of the red rods placed on the floor in the shape of a maze. The child builds a square maze, removes their shoes and traverses into and out of it.
Throughout the materials in the full sequence of the Sensorial curriculum, there is a distinct purpose and method to its use to develop either a specific or combination of the child senses. The constants are exact size and dimension increasing at a constant rate, along with the foundation of base ten. The child develops their visual, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, vestibular, and auditory senses though their exploration of the materials.
The refinements refer to the application of grading, matching, sorting, categorization, discrimination, and comparison. The materials are also the introduction to Geometry through the nomenclature of the geometric shapes and solids along with introduction to size, dimension and shape. Two and three-dimensional materials are utilized. The binomial and trinomial cubes are examined and may be defined later in the elementary classroom as the physical representation of (A2 + B2) and (A2 + B2 + C2). The power of two cube also gives physical form illustrate further mathematical concepts.
The children use Triangles to create parallelograms, other triangles, rhombuses, rhomboids, trapezoids, squares and rectangles.
Through the refinement of the senses the child learns to bring greater attention and experience to the rest of their learning in the classroom. The greater scaffolding of skills is repeated throughout the curriculum areas, to provide the child with greater access and deepening of learning through the materials and the curriculum.
Modern brain science backs up Montessori’s theories regarding brain development through physical touch and interaction with the environment. In so far as to say, the more you experience sensorially, the more you learn.