Knobbed Cylinders is the first sensorial material to introduce to a 2 year old toddler (followed by a Pink Tower, and then by a Brown Stair).  This activity is great for developing "pencil" grip, and for teaching order, size gradation, dimension and matching.  When a child makes a mistake by putting a cylinder in a hole too large for it, and so leaves one cylinder without a place, he/she instinctively absorbs the idea of the absence of one from a continuous series, and will most likely self-correct.

The set comes with four blocks, and each block has 10 cylinders. We purchased Mini Knobbed Cylinders (buy here) due to space constraints while living at the apartment, but if your finances and space permit, I would definitely suggest purchasing the original large set (buy here), as it is much more substantial for a child to manipulate.

The difference between the four blocks is:

1. block's cylinders vary in diameter only (thin/narrow/skinny vs. thick/wide//fat);
2. block's cylinders vary in height only (short vs. tall);
3. the 3rd set varies in both: height (short vs. tall) and diameter, thus gradating from tall and wide to short and narrow;
4. the 4th set: the diameter decreases while the height increases: from short and wide to tall and narrow.

Initially, when you present this material to a 2 year old, language is not necessary, and you would simply start by pulling cylinders one by one in order starting with the smallest while using the first three fingers ("pencil" grip), and placing them in front of their respective sockets from which a particular cylinder was removed from.

Then, starting with the biggest cylinder, you may trace the diameter of a cylinder and then trace the corresponding hole, observe that they match and then insert.

So, you will be putting the cylinders back into their respective sockets starting with the biggest.

You may also introduce language and present a Three-Period Lesson. For example, P1: โThis is thin/narrow /skinny vs thick/wide//fatโ; P2: โShow me/Which one is thin/thick?โ; P3: โWhat is this?โ

Once a child is comfortable with each of four sets individually, you may combine the four sets, mix all the cylinders on the table and have your toddler match the cylinders to their correct holes.

Mixing all the cylinders from all four sets at 2.5 years.

Oops! The hole is too big, but at this age, Adrian can tell right a way).

practicing a "pencil" grip

"All done! Can we do it again?"

I would love to hear your ideas. How do you present Knobbed Cylinders?