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Montessori in a Minute: the Brown Stair

What is the Brown Stair?


Clear, sharp vision and spatial awareness are key skills that students hone during successful pre-reading and math development. The Brown Stair, also known as the Broad Stair, is one of the most popular Montessori materials used to instill those concepts and more.


This sensorial activity is used in Bridge Primary and Primary classrooms. The material is presented as a set of 10 brown square prisms that are all the same length (20 cm). They vary in height, depth (thickness), and weight. When lined up from thickest to thinnest, they form a staircase.

The Value of the Brown Stair

The Brown Stair is instrumental in refining a child’s mathematical mind. Students learn to distinguish between different sizes of objects, practice sequencing, and develop both gross and fine motor skills. Teachers teach counting 1 through 10 using the blocks.


Like all Montessori learning materials, the Brown Stairs have a built in control or error. Teachers model the correct sequencing. Children remember the ideal shape and attempt to replicate it. Through the student’s exploration and the teacher’s explanation, the activity reinforces increasing vocabulary by introducing word pairs like “thick and thin,” “greater and smaller,” and “heavier and lighter.”


Many lessons present the Brown Stair and Pink Tower (also pictured) together as an extension activity. The height and depth of the brown blocks and pink blocks are the same, allowing students to notice the biggest differences: length and weight.

The Montessori in a Minute Series

Montessori schools have at least five key areas of learning in the Montessori environment: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Culture. This Montessori In A Minute series regularly explores the unique benefits of Montessori philosophy, its fundamental materials, and areas of the classroom. For all parents at Hudson Montessori School (Jersey City, New Jersey), the school hosts several Parent Education Nights a year to learn all about the Montessori method and how the students learn curriculum components using a Montessori framework.


To learn more about Hudson Montessori School’s interdisciplinary, theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for children age 2 to fifth grade, sign up for virtual school tour or for more details about our Middle School, attend a Middle School Information Session.



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