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How to Present Montessori’s Knobbed Cylinders Lesson


Knobbed Cylinders are the first visual sense lesson within the Sensorial area of the classroom. To introduce the work, invite the child to the Sensorial area and identify the material, “These are the knobbed cylinders.” 

Montessori Knobbed Cylinders Lesson

A look at Montessori’s Knobbed Cylinders

There are four different blocks of knobbed cylinders. Block 1 varies in height and diameter, and the tallest is also the widest. Block 2 varies in diameter. Block 3 varies in height and diameter, and the tallest has the smallest diameter. Block 4 varies in height.


To handle the knobbed cylinders, grasp the wooden block with your thumb, against the side facing you, and place your three middle fingers on the opposite side. The little finger acts as a cushion when you set it down.

Set it down slowly and carefully within the child’s field of vision. Using the 3-finger grip, grasp onto the first knob and slowly bring it out of the socket. Pause for a moment once the cylinder clears the socket.

Knobbed Cylinders

Knobbed Cylinder Presentations

Like most Sensorial works, there are several presentations to the Knobbed Cylinders.

Knobbed Cylinders – Presentation I


Lift all the cylinders out of their sockets and line them up in order on the table in front of the block. Be sure to make eye contact with the child often and pause. Knobbed Cylinders

Pick up the first cylinder that was removed from the block. Trace around the base with the index and third fingers. Using the same fingers trace around the edge of the socket opening (for the smallest cylinder, use only your index finger).  Slowly lower the cylinder into its socket with one edge slightly lower than the others so that it slips into the socket first.

Repeat with other cylinders, then run index and third fingers across the cylinder tops and the block to make sure all the blocks are in properly.

Offer the child a turn.

Knobbed Cylinders – Presentation II


Cylinders come out of the block in a similar manner, but they are placed randomly in front of the block.

Study the block and show the child the empty sockets. Trace the empty socket on the left. Search for the cylinder that fits, trace its base, and trace the socket again.

Continue with remaining cylinders

Knobbed Cylinders – Presentation III and Beyond

Knobbed Cylinders

Two blocks in a “V” shape

Knobbed Cylinders

Three blocks in a triangle formation

Knobbed Cylinders - Presentation IV

All four blocks in a square formation

Knobbed Cylinders - Variations

For an extension, have the child try the exercise blindfolded.

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