Knobbed Cylinders

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Knobbed Cylinders
Sensorial - Visual Discrimination of Size
Knobbed Cylinders.JPG
Age2.5 - 3.5
Prerequisiteseye-hand coordination
small muscle coordination
knobbed puzzles
Practical Life activities
Materialsknobbed cylinder block 1
knobbed cylinder block 2
knobbed cylinder block 3
knobbed cylinder block 4

Use of this material teaches the child visual discrimination of dimension. This activity also helps the child develop their pincer grip which is necessary for writing.


The cylinder blocks can be done at a mat or table. If you would like the child to work at a mat, have the child unroll the mat before getting the cylinder block.

  1. Bring the child to the shelf and invite them to take the knobbed cylinder block.
  2. Take the cylinder block to a mat or table and place the it at the top of the workspace. (Be sure the cylinder blocks are placed in the correct direction as shown in the pictures.)
  3. Take out all the cylinders one at a time from left to right by holding the knob with a pincer grip. Place the at the bottom of the workspace in a random order.
  4. Indicate that you are looking for the cylinder that fits in the left-most hole.
  5. Select a cylinder you think will fit and try it in the first hole. If it doesn't fit, try a different one.
  6. Continue until all of the cylinders are back in place.

Cylinder Block 1

Cylinder Block 1.jpg

Cylinder Block 2

Cylinder Block 2.jpg

Cylinder Block 3

Cylinder Block 3.jpg

Cylinder Block 4

Cylinder Block 4.jpg

Points of Interest

  • The cylinders fitting perfectly when in the correct place


Direct Purpose

  • To teach the child to distinguish small differences in size.

Indirect Purpose

  • Exercising the pincer grip
  • Left to right direction (for reading)
  • Cylinders in sets of ten prepares for base-ten number system

Control of Error

The control of error lies within the materials itself.

  • Seeing those that are too wide not fit
  • Those that are too thin will not fit snugly
  • Those that are too short or too tall will not be level
  • At the least, the child will be left with one that does not fit in the end.

Variations and Extensions


All Blocks: knob, cylinder

Block 1
- Establishment of Quality: large, small
- Comparatives: larger, smaller
- Superlatives: largest, smallest

Block 2
- Establishment of Quality: thick, thin
- Comparatives: thicker, thinner
- Superlatives: thickest, thinnest

Block 3
- No language

Block 4
- Establishment of Quality: tall, short
- Comparatives: taller, shorter
- Superlatives: tallest, shortest


Where to Buy

Prices and links last checked: 26 June 2020

Set of 4
Absorbent Montessori $109.00
Absorbent Montessori $144.00
Adena $125.92
Affordable Montessori $185.00
Alison's $147.00
Alison's $216.00
Bruin's $305.00
E & O $219.00
Hello Wood $353.00
IFIT $140.00
Kid Advance $139.99
Leader Joy $152.95
Montessori Concepts $153.00
Thinkamajigs $179.95

Individual Blocks
Alison's $50.00 (block 1)
Alison's $50.00 (block 2)
Alison's $70.00 (block 3)
Hello Wood $79.00 (block 1)
Hello Wood $79.00 (block 2)
Hello Wood $79.00 (block 3)
Hello Wood $79.00 (block 4)
Material Company of Boston $62.00 (block 1)
Material Company of Boston $62.00 (block 2)
Material Company of Boston $62.00 (block 3)
Material Company of Boston $62.00 (block 4)
Montessori Concepts $42.00 (block 1)
Montessori Concepts $42.00 (block 2)
Montessori Concepts $42.00 (block 3)
Montessori Concepts $42.00 (block 4)
Montessori Outlet $39.95 (block 1)
Montessori Outlet $39.95 (block 2)
Montessori Outlet $39.95 (block 3)
Montessori Outlet $32.95 (block 4)
Nienhuis $82.20 (block 1)
Nienhuis $82.20 (block 2)
Nienhuis $82.20 (block 3)
Nienhuis $82.20 (block 4)

Infant-Toddler Version
Alison's $65.00 (4 cylinders per block)
Alison's $75.00 (5 cylinders per block)
Alison's $78.00 (1-3 cylinders per block)
Best Montessori Toys $37.90 (5 cylinders per block)

Replacement Cylinders
Alison's $16.00 (1 smallest of each)
Hello Wood $6.00
Kid Advance $4.99 (5 of smallest from block 1)
Nienhuis $6.00

Stand for Cylinder Blocks
Affordable Montessori $119.00
Alison's $144.50 (with spots for Knobless Cylinders)
Bruins $130.00
E & O $56.00
Kid Advance $89.99
Leader Joy $40.95
Montessori Concepts $42.00
Montessori Outlet $63.95
Nienhuis $175.50


The third cylinder block was not part of the original set as designed by Maria Montessori.

Further Reading