"The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge. Our apparatus for educating the senses offers the child a key to guide his explorations of the world…"[i]
This is the time of year that our senses are enraptured: the smell of autumn is in the air, the canopy of autumn in the sky and the pumpkin patches are replete with pumpkins big and small. In the Montessori classroom, the purpose of the sensorial materials is to educate and refine the senses. Dr. Montessori observed that the “child's intellect does not work in isolation, but is everywhere and is always intimately bound up with his body”, (Standing, E. M., Maria Montessori: Her Life and Her Work), particularly with his nervous and muscular systems. Sensorial education helps develop a child's intellect through exploration of the senses.
Dr. Montessori was a scientific observer. According to Montessori, a child between two to six years passes through the ‘sensitive period’ for the refinement of the senses. She thus took each of the senses and developed beautiful materials that would support children in using and refining their skills of classification, ordering, and pairing to help them build an understanding of the world around them.
What Dr. Montessori advocated for over 100 years ago has also been corroborated by the most recent brain research: "Experience is the chief architect of the brain…. Rich experiences, in other words, really do produce rich brains.” [ii]
Plus, the materials are endlessly engaging and fun to work with for inquisitive young minds.