Sensorial Materials: Montessori Geometric Solids and How We Use Them

Montessori Geometric Solids, nomenclature cards, and sorting extension on a work mat in homeschool

“To understand the Universe, you must understand the language in which it’s written, the language of Mathematics.”

– Galileo Galilei

Awesome Autumn

We hope everyone’s autumn is off to a great start.  Our children spent their first day of fall on a nature scavenger hunt of sorts.  While both children were tasked with collecting some nature items for our upcoming works, our 2 year-old son chose to collect strictly acorns in his pail and our oldest daughter opted to fill her pail with nature’s kitchen sink.  We ended up with a lot of great finds and it should make for some fun sorting work to start off our fall activities.  

Our kids are still showing a lot of interest in their Montessori Solar System Unit Study and that has been a lot of fun for everyone.  Other than that, we’ve been wrapping up some Montessori Grace and Courtesy shelf work, enjoying time outdoors, showing support for my husband while he enjoys bowhunting season, and perfecting our dance moves.  Reggae and Folk are two music genres we are really enjoying right now, thanks to Alexa.  Our son, who normally has a subtle swagger, has developed some pretty sweet dance moves to go with it.  I’d classify it as a variation of the Molly Bop.

Montessori Sensorial Materials

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post on our work with traditional Montessori Sensorial Materials. We previously shared our work with The Montessori Pink Tower. This time, I thought I’d share what we’re up to with our Geometric Solids. 

Blue three dimensional solids on table

Montessori Geometric Solids

In addition to being just fun objects to hold and play around with, they are used to teach Geometry concepts such as vocabulary (name, edge(s), vertex(ices), sides, base, stand), how they move, what 2d shapes they are comprised of, base shape, families of shapes, common shape combinations, and surface patterns. 

These ten attractive and bright blue 3d solids provide our preschooler with a sensorial experience while learning about the shapes that make up most objects found in nature.  They are an excellent tool for refinement of order, stereognostic sense/perception, and understanding how objects in our environment consist of a variety of these shapes alone or in combination.  

We’ve had our Geometric Solids for about a year and while our children have used them in their open-ended play since that time, we have recently begun formal work with them. For us, that means beginning with the formal Introduction and Three-Period Lesson. Aside from learning the names of 2d shapes as a toddler, this is our preschooler’s first substantial introduction to Geometry. 

Montessori Geometric Solids, nomenclature cards, and sorting extension on a work mat in homeschool

How Do We Use the Montessori Geometric Solids?

  1. I introduced the sphere, the cube, and the cylinder and progressed through the three-period lesson until she had a mastery of that vocabulary.
  2. We also discussed how each of the solids felt and how they moved on her mat.
  3. We identified the shapes we saw on each solid, how many sides, if any, to each solid, and whether each solid had edges or a vertex.
  4. She also matched them to the 2d geometric plane figures that accompany the solids.
  5. We then played a game in which we each drew the 2d shapes on the easel, and had the other person fetch the matching solid.
  6. We discussed the difference in the vocabulary between the 2d and 3d version of each shape.
  7. Then we searched for objects in our environment that had the same shape.
  8. Once that work was completed, I added an additional solid to the lesson and repeated all the steps.  

This is the basic procedure we have used for this geometry work, adding a new solid to the mat after each iteration that produces mastery of the work.  Sometimes our preschooler jumps ahead, which is cool, and asks about other solids.  Her curiosity usually ends in laughter when she learns what some of the other solids are called.  Right now, rectangular prism appears to be her favorite name.  She throws her head back and giggles every time without fail.

Child doing Sensorial Sorting Extension

Nomenclature Cards and Sorting Extension

Now that she has a solid mastery of these four solids, I have introduced the 3 part cards and a sorting extension to add interest to this work.  Our daughter loves games and she’s all about the sorting activity right now.  It contains real images and ties in well with our Montessori Solar System Unit Study as well as our current math shelf work. As she increases in her understanding of each solid, we add the associated nomenclature card and sorting extension cards to her shelf work.

More Montessori Geometric Solids Activities

Our daughter continues to use the solids in her open-ended play and I will be introducing a blindfold activity soon as an additional stereognostic exercise.  I will also introduce the concept of an angle when she is ready for additional vocabulary.

In our case, once the geometry is understood, it sets the stage for the practical application of that knowledge through art and everyday exploration.  Our preschooler has begun noticing objects in her environment that have these shapes and she proudly points them out.  She is also starting to grasp the idea that once she has identified the shapes, she can use them to reproduce some of her favorite things on her easel or on paper.  It encourages a lot of opportunities with her art materials.  

In Summary

The Geometric Solids are a really fun Montessori material to work with.  Our 2 year-old son enjoys them just as much as our 3.5 year-old preschooler and I look forward to seeing her teach our son more about them as he increases in his own understanding of this material.  I can see why the Geometric Solids are a great segue to the Geometric Cabinet and all the learning opportunities that come with it.  

We hope everyone’s school year is going well and you’re enjoying the meaningful experiences.  We will be back to share our next unit study with you soon.

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Thanks for stopping by!

– Kristin

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Detailed tutorial on how to use Sensorial Material: Montessori Geometric Solids, including printables, in early childhood education settings #montessori #homeschool #montessorisensorial #montessorigeometricsolids

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02 comments on “Sensorial Materials: Montessori Geometric Solids and How We Use Them

  • Happy Homeschool Adventures , Direct link to comment

    Hi, Celeste! For us, it was beneficial to plan ahead using my scope and sequence for the primary years. I created three categories of Montessori materials. I identified the materials I think are going to 1) add the most value to our children's education, whether that means encouraging the most interest or providing the most versatile opportunities for learning. I also identified which materials we could 2) DIY with a reasonable investment of time and money, and which materials nurtured skills that could 3) be just as easily attained through experiences in the environment or using items we already own. The lists are fluid but they serve as a useful guide.

    Armed with that info, I regularly check out what is available via BST pages, Craigslist, local community (schools, homeschool families), the Montessori community, and back-to-school/holiday sales through Montessori distributors. I keep quality and durability in mind knowing that we plan on using these materials for all our children and most quality materials can be passed on to other families when they are no longer of use to us.

    If you have the luxury of being patient, I would recommend starting a casual search once you've determined what suits your family. Having a mentor or other Montessori families to share ideas/resources with is extremely helpful. Also, there are some grants/funds available to homeschooling families depending on your location and your family's needs.

  • Celeste , Direct link to comment

    I love the idea of paying attention to how the solids move! Also the tie in with art is cool – I never made the connection before but it makes sense that as kids gain a more conscious understanding of geometry that it would inform their artistic creations.

    How do you decide which materials to invest in? I love the idea of my son having access to all these concrete learning tools but I can’t afford everything so I’m wondering what your process is for determining what’s most important.

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