Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Montessori Color Tiles: Sensory Refinement and Visual Discrimination in the Primary Classroom

For sensory refinement, the Montessori Color Boxes are presented to develop visual discrimination as applied to the chromatic sense. We start with the primary colors, because they have the maximum contrast. That is called Color Box 1. Color Box 2 has red, yellow, blue, and also green, orange, and purple, as well as the tertiary colors brown, gray, and pink. Then, there are also a set of black and of white. It is a total of eleven pairs, keys to the senses. It is one of the materials specifically made and designed by Dr. Montessori herself. In her initial design, they were made with spools of silk.

It begins with the invitation, mentioning the name of the materials that we will use. Check the furniture space, making sure the table is ready. Go with the child to show them where the material is, show them how to carry it over, and demonstrate how to handle the materials to receive the stimulus. Then give the actual presentation, analyzing the movements and the emotions. Finally, give the child the control and invite them into repeating the activity. If we were using Color Box 2, it might be better to use a mat on the floor for more space.

When a child is beginning sensorial activities, the child will need a reminder of when they are finished, so that they can begin making those judgments of a completed abstract task. A three year old will need help to internalize the inner feeling of done-ness and satisfaction.

We teach the child not to touch the colored part of the color tablets, and only the end tabs. This is not only because they were originally silk, but because it develops the precision of movement. Touching objects carefully renders an element of sanctity and care to our materials in the classroom.

It is still important to introduce this box, even if they know all of their colors. The first box serves the purpose of forming the patterns of creating disorder and recreating order again, while learning the internal sense of having completed a task. We start with the first box because of the higher contrast and reducing the complexity. We are starting in the context of the known.

The control of error lies in the child's chromatic sense, relying on the child's developing perception.

These pairs make identical pairs, where both parts of the pair are loose. The direct aim is to give the keys to the world of color. The child is in the sensitive period for sensory refinement, and we are giving the tools for classifying colors. The indirect aim is aesthetic appreciation and application of color.

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