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Materials Spotlight: Brown Prisms- Broad Stairs

What are the Brown Prisms?

This traditional Montessori work is made up of 10 wooden prisms and can be found in the Sensorial Area of the classroom. It has two names, the Brown Prisms or the Broad Stairs. While the prisms are all the same length (20 cm), they vary in thickness from 1 to 10 cm. When put together from thickest to thinnest, they make an even staircase.

What is the purpose of the Brown Prisms?

Working with this tactile, hands-on material, children refine muscular coordination, fine motor control and the ability to discriminate differences in size and weight. They learn about patterns, proportions and distances and develop the language to describe them. This work prepares the child for lessons in the Math Area of the classroom, such as geometry, sequencing and number

Are there any extensions that can be done using this material?

Yes! Children have the opportunity to put the control of error to the test. They begin by placing a marble on top of the broadest stair and allow it to roll down to the narrowest stair. If the marble successfully lands on the ground the child has placed each prism in it's correct place, if the marble falls off too early the child will see the staircase they built was incorrect. This allows the child to complete the work multiple times independently without the teacher stepping in to intervene. The child may also use the Pink Tower alongside the Brown Prisms and build with them simultaneously.

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