Introduction to Sensorial

©Ginni Sackett – Montessori Institute Northwest 1
No portion may be reproduced without express written permission from the author Course 38
Introduction to the Sensorial Area
History of the Sensorial Area
In The Discovery of the Child (Ch. 7), Montessori summarizes the history of the material for the Sensorial
Area – materials specially designed for the development of the senses. She writes that this material
… represents a selection, based upon careful psychological experiments; from material used by
Itard and Seguin in their attempts to educate deficient and mentally defective children; from
objects used as tests in experimental psychology; and from a series of material which I designed
in the first period to my own experimental work. The way in which these different means were
used by the children, the reactions they provoked in them, the frequency with which they used
these objects, and above all the development they rendered possible, furnished us gradually with
reliable criteria for the elimination, the modification or the acceptance of these means in our
apparatus. Colour, size, shape, all their qualities in brief were experimentally established.
In this area of the Casa, we can clearly see Montessori’s collaborative approach in developing her
alternative system of education: seeking extensively amongst both the popular and the obscure in the
history of pedagogy; assessing, applying, testing, and evaluating what others had developed; adapting and
perfecting those materials she borrowed and kept; and designing new materials to fill the gaps. We see a
mind at work in service to the emergent development of the child: neither too proud to seek for answers
among the established work of others; nor too awe-struck to question or modify those answers based upon
the one “reliable” criteria – the response of children acting freely in the liberating environment of the Casa.
Also in this area we...