Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Color Tablets

Many traditional Montessori materials seem very simple to the untrained eye. One example of a material that seems easy and fairly dull is the color tablets. The color tablets consist of three boxes of tablets, usually made of wood or plastic. The first box contains two each of the primary colors, red, blue and yellow. The second box contains pairs of 11 colors - primary, secondary, plus brown, white, grey, black, and pink. The third box contains nine sets of graded colors - seven tablets in a gradient from dark to light. These are presented in order, from simple to more complex.

The first box is presented to younger children who have oriented to the classroom and are ready for orderly activities.

First we look inside the box, take out all the tablets, and mix them up on the table. I show the child how to find the ones that are the same. Then we work on it together until the three colors are matched. 

After matching each pair we make a neat column of colors in the upper left corner of the table. 

Once a child has experience with this simple game, we move on to the box of 11 pairs. We introduce them in the same way, matching the pairs into a column of colors. 

After a child can match them, we introduce distance games - setting one of each color on a table, and the matching tablets on another work area across the room. 

Using a special glass bead, which we call a "memory marker," the child chooses which color they would like to find first, places the marker on that tablet, and goes to find its match. This girl has chosen to stack the tablets as she finds the match from the table across the room.

Sometimes teachers lead matching games in which picture cards or classroom objects are matched to the  colors. Here some classified picture cards of fruit are matched to their color. This can lead to interesting observations and conversations about the colors of the fruit - is a coconut brown or white? If it's both, where should we put it? What about the watermelon?

This child noticed that the colors matched their sweater and decided to put them in the same order! 

The largest box of color tablets, which are graded from light to dark, are introduced slowly, with only one set taken out at a time. As the child shows interest and ability, they are invited to take out more sets, and then all of the sets. It takes a lot of commitment on their part to put the sets back in the box sorted by color when they are finished.

 This child has taken out every set and is grading the colors of the third box as he builds a beautiful pattern over many rugs. Other children are drawn to his work and often one child's work will inspire a weeks-long exploration of a material by many other children!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

V'nahafoch Hu!

During Purim we like to celebrate turning things upside down - v'nahafoch hu! Today at Tree of life we turned a few things on their heads.

First we decided that Spring is on its way, in spite of the incessant rain and daffodils that refuse to bloom, even a month later than usual! We spent the first part of the day planting a variety of beautiful flowers.

First we looked at each one and repeated its name, and then we carried them outside toe plant in our colorful pots.

After the flowers we planted we put the pots back on the patio and gave them plenty of water!

In the afternoon, the children had another topsy-turvy time, making beards and wearing them! Of course silly faces came next.

The dramatic play continued!

We are all looking forward to dressing up for our Purim party!