The Knobless Cylinders



Four sets of wooden cylinders corresponding in size to the cylinders of
set 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the solid knobbed cylinders in the cylinder
blocks. Each set is a different color and varies by 1/2 centimeter
between any two in succession.

 Set 1

 Set 2

 Set 3

 Set 4


1. Cylinders vary in height and diameter
2. Cylinders vary in height and diameter
3. Cylinders vary in diameter
4. Cylinders vary in height


1) Grading by size
2) To train the eye to perceive fine differences in dimensions
3) To recognize difference and similarities (when using more than one set)
4) Co-ordination of movement


3 to 5 years


If a child builds a tower, the tower will fall over if the mistakes are
great. However, by this series of exercises, the child uses his own
visual ability to discriminate as a control of error.


The teacher may show the child how to either build the set into a tower
or how to grade them in a row.
To Build A Tower: The teacher lays out a green mat on the floor and
brings a box of the knobless cylinders to the mat. (These are used on
the floor because they would be too tall for the child on a table.) The
teacher sits beside the child and shows the child how to slide the lid
off the box, and place it under the box. The teacher removes the
cylinders from the box, placing them in a random order as they are taken
out. The teacher then selects the largest, placing it away from the other
cylinders. Pause. The teacher lets the child see she is deliberately
selecting the next larger cylinder. She places the cylinder
concentrically on top of the largest cylinder in one movement. She
continues choosing the cylinders in order and builds a tower.


At any point a child will join in. If the child knows what he or she is doing, the
teacher allows the child to take over. If the teacher completes the tower, she
takes it down one cylinder at a time before the child builds it.
To Grade The Cylinders: (This can be done on a mat on the floor or at a
table.) The teacher sits next to the child with the cylinders in mixed
order. She arranges these in order of size beginning with the largest.
She shows the child how to move carefully and place the cylinders so
they are touching one another.
The child may help him or herself to the other sets in turn using each in the
same way, or the teacher may give the child a lesson if he or she needs help.


When building a tower with a motor impaired or developmentally delayed
child, the teacher uses every other cylinder and has the child build a
tower of five. When the child is successful with five, the teacher gives him or her the
full set. Grading the cylinders is easier than building a tower for the
motor impaired child.


The child takes one set, grades it in order of size, or builds it into a tower. As he or she progresses, the child may take two or more sets at a time.


After the child has explored and grasped the concepts of dimension inherent in the material, the teacher may review the terminology that was introduced with the knobbed cylinders.  The vocabulary is the same as for the knobbed cylinders.

Set 1 and 2:

Large - Small
Large - Larger - Largest
Small - Smaller - Smallest

Set 3:

Thick - Thin
Thick - Thicker - Thickest
Thin - Thin - Thinnest

Set 4:

Tall - Short Deep - Shallow
Tall - Taller - Tallest
Deep - Deeper - Deepest
Short - Shorter - Shortest



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