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Refining the Senses - Montessori Sound Cylinders, Sound Games + DIY

Montessori Sound Cylinders at HWM

"The education of the senses makes men observers." - Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori argued that the education of the senses must be of the greatest pedagogical interest, she suggested doctors and cooks both need refined senses.

The Montessori Sound Cylinder are just one of the sensorial materials used in Montessori classrooms (3-6yrs). The Montessori Sound Cylinders are made up of 12 cylinders, six coloured red and six coloured blue. Each red cylinder has a corresponding blue cylinder.  There are beads inside each cylinder, the beads inside the corresponding cylinders are the same.  The child is to shake the cylinders to find which ones match! The child can also grade the cylinders from the quietest to the loudest. This work helps to refine the child's sense of sound, the auditory sense. You can how to present the sound cylinders here

Montessori sound cylinders diy sound cylinders (1)

Otto (4yrs) shakes and listens very carefully to the sound of the blue cylinder. 

Montessori sound cylinders diy sound cylinders (1)

He finds a red cylinder that matches. 

Montessori sound cylinders diy sound cylinders (1)

Then he uses the control of error, he looks on the bottom of the cylinders to make sure the colour dots match too. Our Montessori Sound Cylinders are from here (AU), here US and similar here UK.

Sound matching game at How we Montessori Toy Library Randwick

We've also been using the Sound Matching Gem Blocks (AU) from our local toy library. These are based on the same concept. There are 12 blocks, six matching pairs. When I present these to my child I try to turn the blocks over so the colour gems aren't so obvious.

DIY sound cylinders at How we Montessori

The child shakes the blocks to find the pairs that match. 

DIY sound cylinders at How we Montessori

Using the colour gems as the control of error the child can check if they are correct in identifying the matching pairs. These blocks are fun to use and honestly if the child is looking at the colour gems to find the match, I don't mind. They are still using and refining their auditory sense. These blocks are also wonderful for open-ended play.

DIY Montessori Sound Jars at How we Montessori sensorial materials

It is easy to DIY sound cylinders using some empty containers and beads or other items found around the home. I save a lot of our materials for recycling such as containers, egg cartons, paper tubes and this is always incredibly helpful for DIYs. 

To make our DIY Montessori Sound Cylinders, I gathered eight identical containers with lids. It is ideal if the containers are solid and not transparent (so the child can't see what is in them).  Spice jars are a good size but we need to cover them with tape, paper or paint so the child can't easily see what is in them. Our containers are opaque but they work ok.

I put different items in each pair of containers. It is important to carefully consider what goes into the containers. Depending on the age of the child you want the sounds to be different but for older children, not so obviously different. Give it a try yourself, close your eyes and shake them, what do they sound like? Can you match them but not too easily?

I've used items from my kitchen (sunflower seeds, nutmeg, coffee and farro). We could also use items from nature like sand, gum nuts, or seedpods. Put the lids on securely, we can also tape the lids up or use a hot glue gun to ensure the child can't access small items inside the containers. 

Self checking DIY Montessori sound cylinders colour stickers underneath

I put matching stickers on the bottom of the matching sound containers. This way the child can self-correct and check their work. 

DIY sound cylinders at How we Montessori

The child chooses one container, shakes it and listens. 

DIY sound cylinders at How we Montessori

The child then selects other containers and shakes them until they find one that matches. 

DIY sound cylinders at How we Montessori

The child can then look at the bottom of the containers to see if they are a match. 

We can also try these activities with the child wearing a blindfold to help them focus on their sense of sound. 


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