Young children learn through their senses. The word sensorial comes from the words sense or senses. In working with the sensorial materials the child is able to concentrate on the refinement of all his senses, from visual to stereognostic.
The Sensorial materials and exercises were designed by Dr. Montessori to envelop every quality that can be perceived by the senses such as size, shape, composition, texture, loudness or softness, matching, weight, temperature, etc. Because the activities cover a wide range of senses Dr. Montessori categorized the exercises into eight different groups: Visual, Tactile, Baric, Thermic, Auditory, Olfactory, Gustatory, and Stereognostic.
The Purpose of Sensorial Work:
The purpose and aim of Sensorial work is for the child to acquire clear, conscious, information and to be able to then make classifications in his environment. Dr. Montessori believed that sensorial experiences began at birth. Through their senses, children study their environment. Through this study, the child then begins to understand his environment. The child, to Montessori, is a "sensorial explorer".
Sensorial materials offer the child the keys to classifying the objects around him, which leads to the child making his own experiences in his environment. Through the classification of sensorial materials and activities, the child is also offered the first steps in organizing his intelligence, which then leads to his adapting to his environment.
The materials and activities explored reveal a range of small differences in the quality and explore patterns in those differences. The child's understanding of the world is "broadened" when the sensorial activities awaken certain sense experiences that were previously unexplored, such as the feel of shapes or the smell of spices. They allow the child to experience and concentrate on particular qualities in perfect clarity and isolation.