From the vantage point of a doctoral student in education leadership and policy, as well as a teacher at a public Montessori, I'm learning and sharing as I go. This is my space to explore the child's interior life, our discoveries as educators, and work of learning together.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Montessori Color Tiles: Sensory Refinement and Visual Discrimination in the Primary Classroom
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
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
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.