Material Spotlight: The Cylinder Block

 The 2017-2018 school year is in full swing. Our new children have started settling in and our returning children are delving deeper into their learning and discoveries from year(s) prior.

Among the excitement and the plethora of materials new children are introduced to in the Casa classroom, the cylinder block is often a favourite of many. (To read last year’s blog post, “September Spotlight: A Peak into the Casa Classroom as a New Child,” please click here.)


The Cylinder Block

One of the first pieces of work a child is introduced to in a Casa classroom is the cylinder block. Each classroom is equipped with a full set of four. These materials are some of the most attractive, engaging and purposeful activities a new child can partake in within his or her new class.

As with all Montessori materials, the cylinder block serves direct and indirect purposes as the child manipulates them. Directly, it allows the child to refine their senses and visually discriminate changes in the cylinders’ dimensions. The cylinder blocks also allow children independence with a built-in control of error – each cylinder only fits perfectly into one spot in the block. The cylinders’ knobs allow a child to practice the “pincer grip,” the manner in which one holds writing utensils. The material is presented to the child in a right to left sequence, indirectly preparing him or her for reading and writing.

The cylinder block provides the child opportunities to practice spatial awareness, strength, and hand-eye coordination as he or she carries and maneuvers the classroom while retrieving and returning the block to the shelf.

Each cylinder block is created from a solid piece of wood with 10 cylinders to be removed and replaced.

Each set of cylinders pose varied challenges for the child. Two sets possess cylinders that change in both circumference and height in descending and ascending patterns as photographed below.

One set possesses cylinders that change only in circumference as photographed below.

Another possesses cylinders that change only in height as seen below.

The children work with these blocks independently as they learn to visually discriminate the changes in dimensions. As children master the activity, extensions are introduced to keep the child challenged and engaged.


The Cylinder Blocks x 2, x 3 and x 4

 Once a child has shown a mastery of each individual cylinder block, he or she is presented with the opportunity to work with two, three and, eventually, all four at one time. The child revisits the activity as it provides ever increasing challenges to refine a child’s senses, foster concentration and guide his or her learning.


Precision in Material

 Dr. Maria Montessori developed her materials to exact mathematical specifications that remain constant in any Montessori classroom around the globe. Photographed below is this precision in measurement as seen with the cylinder blocks and the knobless cylinders, another activity aimed at refining a child’s visual discrimination of dimension. Each cylinder block set has its equivalent in the knobless cylinders and provide the children more opportunities to transpose their skills and discover through experience.


Starting Point

The cylinder blocks are one set in a multitude of materials present in your child’s classroom. With so much thought and care placed into each activity on our shelves, we are always so excited to open our doors and share what it is that we do to help the children along on this happy road of lifelong learning. Please don’t hesitate to ask your classroom teacher about any other material or curriculum area of interest. Please also keep an eye and an ear out for our upcoming Parent Education Evenings and Curriculum Nights at both the Christie and Sorauren campuses. We thank you for a great start to the year so far and wish to continue this discussion at any time through the year!


“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”

Maria Montessori



Marie Hui is the Vice Principal of Odyssey Montessori School. She began her tenure with Odyssey as the student teacher in Casa 1. Marie then went on to lead Casa 2 as the Directress for several years. With a love of children and a passion for Montessori, Marie strives to connect parents to the Montessori philosophy - hoping to bridge some gaps between home and school.

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