“There is nothing in the intellect which was not first in the senses.”
Unique to Montessori, Sensorial lessons recognize that all of the senses are engaged in the learning process, and the mind must be able to differentiate and appreciate various sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes. These exercises heighten powers of observation, enrich descriptive vocabulary, and help children categorize new information while building on what they have already absorbed outside of class. Each Sensorial lesson attracts the child by beauty of the shapes and designs, but they also lay the foundations of traditional academic work. The Binomial Cube, for instance, consists of two wooden cubes and blocks of different dimensions. If the lengths of the sides of the two cubes were defined as X and Y, the puzzle would demonstrate in concrete terms that X3 + 3(X2Y) + 3(Y2X) + Y3 = 1. A child is very unlikely to understand this equation at the age of three (when she can solve the puzzle). But when she is sitting in algebra class years later, and the teacher writes the equation on the board, she will understand it because she sees algebra as an abstraction of a very concrete world.
The learning materials we use are designed to represent the various mathematical operations. Children learn numerals and operations by manipulating materials and combining them with numeral cards, charts, and written exercises. Dr. Montessori's renowned "golden bead" material forms the basis for learning the decimal system. This lays the foundation for understanding basic arithmetic functions such as adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying and promotes a real understanding of the number system in order to go from the very concrete exercises to abstract representations of numbers.