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How to Use Montessori Knobless Cylinders

The Knobless Cylinders are a Sensorial material, for discrimination of size. Cylinders are familiar to Montessori students, as other cylinders are the Knobbed Cylinders and the cylinder in the Geometric Solids. Work for discrimination of size include the Pink Tower and the Brown Stair, as well as any grading by size.

The work of the child is to grade the cylinders by height and/or size.  Here’s a brief explanation on how to present this:

  • Allow the child to choose one box, bring it to the work space.
  • Isolate extremes and replace in random order.
  • Visually scan cylinders for the thickest cylinder and place at lower left edge.
  • Repeat scan and place next thickest cylinder to the right of thickest. Continue to grade cylinders until all cylinders are graded. Observe child and note when child is ready to take over the work.
  • Replace cylinders in box (they need to stand up to fit in the box) in descending order, starting with the largest extreme.


Once the child has taken over, introduce the language involved in sorting.  “This  cylinder looks taller, this cylinder is wider.”  After the material is mastered, the child can build towers and use extension for these materials.  To see more creative action with the Knobless Cylinders, please see my post of my girls at work.  I kept the pictures above within the original lesson.
Jessie is a Primary Montessori Teacher and Mom to twin three year olds and a five year old. Jessie has a Montessori blog at The Education of Ours, and can be found on Twitter.