Material Spotlight: Geometric Solids

Material Spotlight: Geometric Solids

Introducing the Geometric Solids

The sensorial curriculum area is unique to Montessori education, encouraging children to engage all five senses in their learning, forming concreate ideas from the abstract in their environments. The Geometric Solids are a key part of the sensorial curriculum area, allowing children to understand 3D shapes by making them tangible objects.

The Geometric Solids comprises of ten solid wooden shapes that are coloured in a bright blue. The shapes include:

  • A Triangular prism
  • A Rectangular prism
  • A Cube
  • A Cylinder
  • A Cone
  • A Triangular pyramid
  • A Square pyramid
  • A Sphere
  • A Ellipsoid
  • A Ovoid

These are usually kept in a small basket, along with seven white cards displaying 2D geometric figures, drawn with a thin blue line.

Purpose

The Geometric Solids are one of many Montessori materials that challenge and shape a child’s stereognostic sense, which is their ability to perceive and understand both the form and nature of objects through touch.

By working with these materials, children become aware of how shapes form the basis for everyday objects. This knowledge provides the foundation for future work in geometry, which falls into the Mathematics curriculum for older Montessori students.

Children begin work with the Geometric Solids around three and a half years old and it is often their first introduction to stereognostic materials.

The clear visual differences between the shapes acts as the control of error, helping the children to correct their own work.

Presentation 1

  • Invite the child to work with you and guide them to the sensorial curriculum area.
  • Identify the Geometric Solids, and bring the material to a work mat, placing it in the top right corner.
  • Take out one of the more recognisable shapes, such as the sphere, and place it on the mat in front of you.
  • Pick up and study the solid by gently moving your hands around the object.
  • Say to the child: “This is a sphere.”
  • Offer the child a turn to repeat your actions and to feel the Geometric Solid.
  • Ask the child: “Can you put the sphere on the mat?”
  • Repeat this process with two other shapes, such as the cube and the cylinder, giving the child time to identify differences between each solid.
  • Pack away the three shapes you have identified with your student, returning the Geometric Solids to the sensorial shelves.
  • This lesson can be repeated for the remaining Geometric Solids once the child can identify the first three you presented

Presentation 2

  • Invite the child to work with you and guide them to the sensorial curriculum area.
  • Identify the Geometric Solids, and bring the material to a work mat, placing it in the top right corner.
  • Allow the child to choose three or four shapes they are familiar with. Place these in a separate basket and cover them with a scarf.
  • Place your hand underneath the scarf and using touch, identify the shape you can feel by saying: “I am holding a cube”.
  • Pull out the shape you have grasped to see if you have correctly identified the Geometric Solid.
  • Give the child a turn to identify a hidden solid, ensuring they identify the shape aloud before revealing their selection.
  • Continue to do this for all the shapes, until you and the child have correctly identified all shapes in your basket.
  • Pack away the shapes you have identified with your student, returning the Geometric Solids to the sensorial shelves.

Presentation 3

  • Invite the child to work with you and guide them to the sensorial curriculum area.
  • Identify the Geometric Solids, and bring the material to a work mat, placing it in the top right corner.
  • Select three white cards, picturing shapes with a clear contrast, and place them on your work mat.
  • Ask the child to match the base of each Geometric Solids to the shapes on the white cards you have selected.
  • Continue to do this for all white cards, until you have correctly matched all Geometric Solids in your basket.
  • Pack away the shapes you have identified with your student, returning the Geometric Solids to the sensorial shelves.