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Knobless Cylinders • Montessori Sensorial Activity

Knobless cylinders is four sets of ten cylinders in each set, varying in height and/or diameter. Each set is in a separate wood box with a lid painted the same color as the cylinders: red, green, yellow and blue. Yellow cylinders vary in height and diameter. Green cylinders vary in height and diameter. Red cylinders vary in diameter only (height remains constant). Blue cylinders vary in height (thickness/the diameter is the same).

The purpose of these cylinders is to develop child’s fine-motor movements, concentration, hand-eye coordination, and visual perception of dimension. The material also provides experiences of seriation and gives the child basic language important in maths.

The control of error: (a) visual ~ the child can discern irregularities in the seriation (can be checked by running a finger on top of cylinders), or (b) physical: if the tower topples.

Age: 2 ½ – 3 years approx. I love this material since there are so many extensions, numerous pattern options, sequence cards (see below) which vary in the degree of difficulty, so your child even beyond three years of age can still enjoy these cylinders.

 Presentation: For example, selecting the yellow box. Show the child how to carry the box using two hands cupped around the box. Remove the cylinders one by one grasping them over the top with your dominant hand, using the pincer grip. Show the child how to grade the cylinders from biggest to smallest in a horizontal line. Then, invite the child to grade the cylinders.

DSC_0006Alternatively, you can invite the child to build a standing tower with the cylinders starting with the largest cylinders first. (If the activity is not done on a table, you may use the lid of the box as a base.)

DSC_0011Lastly, the child can use more than one set of cylinders together to discover different properties such as similarities and differences in dimensions between the cylinders. This is where you would use sequence, pattern and comparison cards. I purchased these cards from Montessori Print Shop, and you may download them for your personal use only as outlined below. They are arranged in a progressive order of difficulty:

Set 1 Knobless Cylinder Sequence Cards

Set 2  Pattern Cards

Set 3 Pattern Cards

Set 4 Knobless Cylinder Comparison Cards 


Below are patterns Adrian did starting at 2 ½ years of age. (Please, note, that simple seriation can be introduced as early as two years of age.)
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Below, Adrian at 36 months, is using the 4th Set Knobless Cylinder Comparison Cards:

DSC_0064When combining more than one set, the child should sort the sets individually first.
DSC_0064The child can self-check by running a finger across the cylinders to confirm seriation.
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Below are Extensions Adrian had done at 4 years old (11/3/2017).

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Generally, you would start introducing sensorial activities to a toddler at about two years of age in the following order: 

(1)   Knobbed Cylinders, (2) Pink Tower, (3) Brown Stairs, (4) Color Tablets, followed by

(5) Knobless Cylinders.  


DSC_0020 See here ❤️💚Christmas Knobless Cylinders 3 Yo • Montessori Sensorial Activity.

DSC_0090See here 🎄Christmas Tree from Montessori Number Rods & Knobless Cylinders. 

DSC_0019For Valentines Inspired Activities, see here ❤️Valentine's Inspired Activities for Kids.

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