Montessori Activity Review: Knobbed Cylinder Blocks

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Montessori Activity Review: Knobbed Cylinder Blocks

Montessori Activity: Knobbed Cylinder BlocksMary Jo is my full of energy, soon to be four-year-old. She is home schooled along with her elder sister Amelia and younger brother Matthias.

Each morning during our school time, Mary Jo and I spend some time together working on a Montessori activity. Today she chose the Knobbed Cylinder Blocks. These can be used all sorts of ways – it’s like seven educational tools in one – and I was excited to see where Mary Jo’s creativity would take her.

Getting to know the cylinder blocks

The blocks are made of wood and hold 10 cylinders varying in diameter and/or depth. They’re used primarily to help a child’s visual discrimination of size, but the wooden knobs also help prepare a child for writing.

The blocks come in a set of four. We started off with one block. I showed Mary Jo how to remove all the cylinders and place them on the table in front of her. Then I asked her to replace them one at a time.

Mary Jo had great fun working with these cylinders. She was keen to use the correct hand position and stopped frequently to observe her fingers and tell her little one off for getting in the way. She worked with her left and right hand, neither showing dominance at this stage. On completion, she checked her own work and was very excited to find no mistakes. This material appeared to be easy for Mary Jo, but the ease of it did not detract from her enjoyment or her learning. If she had struggled repeatedly and become discouraged i would have suggested we leave the blocks for another day.

Montessori Materials Review: Knobbed Cylinder BlocksExtension lessons for cylinder blocks

Next I introduced her to two of the extension lessons for the cylinder blocks. Extension Two involves placing three of the blocks in a triangle and mixing up all the cylinders in the middle before replacing them in the blocks. Mary Jo’s imagination stepped up a gear in this work. First, she took out three cylinders and placed them at each corner as the guardsmen. After that it was decided that the skinny folk were dead (the skinniest cylinders are virtually impossible to stand up on end, so they played dead willingly) and so were laid flat.The fat people were alive, and so stood up. The blocks became the castle walls and each person had to take a walk around the wall to find their rightful place.

Mary Jo’s spur-of-the-moment story telling highlights one of the great things about Montessori materials: they serve not only their original purpose, but they ignite a child’s imagination. Mary Jo remained entirely absorbed in her drama of fat and thin warriors as she replaced each cylinder in its home.

Next I introduced Mary Jo to Extension Five: reverse pairing and memory. We selected one block and scattered its cylinders on a tray, which we took to the other side of the room. Then I indicated a hole and asked Mary Jo to find the corresponding cylinder. Mary Jo completed extension five quickly and without any mistakes at all. I’m looking forward to introducing Mary Jo to Extension Six next time, in which the cylinders are scattered around the room.

We enjoyed our work together and hope you have enjoyed reading about it. Remember the materials are only a part of your child’s learning. As Maria Montessori so eloquently said:

“All our handling of the child will bear fruit, not only at the moment, but in the adult they are destined to become.”

Montessori Toys: Knobbed Cylinder BlocksMontessori Knobbed Cylinder Blocks

The cylinder blocks are beautifully crafted and a delight to look at and to touch. With supervision they are suitable for children from the age of 18 months upwards. As with most good quality, this is not a throwaway item and will no doubt be passed on to your children’s children.



About Jo-Anne Landry

Trained in the Montessori method and philosophy, Jo enjoys sharing her passion for education through her work as a freelance writer. Check out her new website combining this passion with her creative side.

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