Montessori and the Wonderful World of Color
Montessori's colored tablets sharpen visual acuity. Children begin to understand the color spectrum with these wonderful lessons. Color discrimination helps with later learning, such as using logic, classification of similar and different objecss, groupings and patterns of color in nature. This exercise helps develop visual language skills.
Montessori first used colored silk thread tablets instead of our modern painted ones. My first Directress went to one of the first Montessori preschools in Holland and experienced this first hand. She explained that the way we present the painted color tablets, holding them on the side and not touching the colored part, was because the colored silk thread would soil from fingerprints. She remembered how beautiful the thread spools were, the colors were vivid and very distinct. These silk thread tables were inviting to use, and much easier to match and grade than our modern painted ones.
I do own the modern colored tablets and they usually work well. But, I have found that some of the colors look too similar. Sometimes, less than perfect shades of color makes the task confusing for some children to grade and match the colors.
We teachers even had difficulty grading the magentas and reds. Some of these colors are so similar that it can be frustrating to figure out the correct color group. Also, the painted tablets are so shiny that the glare from the light makes the colors less distinct.
I found by purchasing colored spools of thread, I can do the same exercises with better color selections. Many students found the spools of thread much easier to match. Also, it makes sense to hold to spools carefully so that your don't touch the thread.
You can use thread, yarn, ribbon, or any type of thin thread material. Make your own tablets from cardboard, balsa wood strips , wooden shapes or wooden cubes you can buy from any craft department or store.
Evenly wind the thread onto the boards or cubes to make your own color boxes.
Provide 2 of each primary color spools for matching. The secondary colors are used for both matching & shading, so you make sure to have enough colors to classify from light to dark.
Here is a great overview and lessons for the color tablets from Montessori World.
montessori trained directress
Pink Tower and Counting
This is a great math and reading activity. The numbers are available in Spanish, French and English.
The pink tower is such a important foundation in Montessori sensorial education. For example, you introduce degrees of word comparisons with the pink tower. You teach words to describe the smallest to the largest cube, words such as small, smaller, smallest, large, larger, largest. It is also the first piece of math equipment.
Montessori was observant about how children learn to count. In our Montessori classroom we used the pink tower to teach linear counting. The smallest cube was one and the largest cube was ten. The difference in cube sizes makes it possible for a young child to see that each number gets bigger when they count the cubes from 1 to 10. Most preschool children can count (which is wonderful!), like memorizing a rhyme, but they don't always understand the value of the numbers. Using the pink tower puts together the concept of counting and value in an easy, tidy package.
We've made some pink tower cards to put in order from largest to smallest.
Here are pink tower cards with Spanish names for the numbers
Here are pink tower cards with English names for the numbers
New! Here are pink tower cards with French names for the numbers
You can make a control or an answer card by cutting out each card and gluing them onto tag board or cardboard in proper order (smallest to largest). For very young children, you can cut off the numbers to avoid confusion.
Let your children match the individual cards onto or under the control card.
Next, we can make the exercise a little bit more challenging by putting the cards in order without the control card.
The first step is to show your child how to put the cards in order, smallest to largest, in a row from left to right. You can do this activity on a rug or table. For younger children, use 3 to 5 cards. Add more cards as they master the lesson.
After this activity is mastered, use the cards to teach counting from 1 through 10. Again, start with a few cards for younger children. Add another card until your child can count to 10.
You can make these printouts as 3 part cards for older children. Make control cards by printing a second printout. Count and use the matching number under each card. Use the three period lesson if your child needs to learn number symbols. Older students can use the written number words for this exercise.
Use the Spanish or French pink tower cards in the same manner as the English cards. This is a great way teach a new language to your child.
Always adapt lessons for your child's needs.
Other Concrete Activities
Use measuring cups that vary in size as another way to count concrete objects. You can use nesting toys or ring stacking towers too.