The sensorial area represents the heart of the curriculum because it gives order to the child’s mental universe, and lays the foundation for his or her further intellectual development. In addition to strengthening the qualities of order, coordination, concentration, and independence that were introduced in practical life, work in the sensorial area helps the child make sense of and classify the multitude of information that he or she is taking in every minute of the day. Through the use of work in the sensorial area of the classroom, the child refines the muscular-tactile, visual, auditory, olfactory, and gustatory senses, and learns how to use them to analyze and classify such characteristics as color, size, shape, smell, and sounds. The sensorial work serves to train and refine the senses, which in turn makes it easier for the child to then analyze and absorb material in other, more intellectually driven aspects of the curriculum, such as math and language.
The first of the aims of the sensorial curriculum is to order and classify information as a foundation for cognitive development and abstract thought. For example, the triangle box not only teaches the child how to use different pieces to construct triangles, but it also exposes the child to the abstract mathematical concept of fractions by giving them visual images of different, smaller pieces being combined to make whole figures.
Many pieces of work that can be found in the sensorial area represent materialized abstractions. For example, most children have played with blocks, but do not know that the name given to that shape is a cube until they receive a lesson on the geometric solids. Once they have been given that name as linked with the object, they are able to connect the abstract notion of a cube with a concrete shape that they can hold and feel.