Wednesday, April 3, 2013

#AtoZChallenge Color Tablets

I love the color tablets for so many reasons. Yes, they teach children how to match colors and how to name colors. But, they also teach children to appreciate the gradations of colors that exist in our world. Ask a child to name something green. Answers may include grass, leaves, peppers, broccoli, apples, etc. If you think about it, yes, those are all representations of the color green. Every one of them, though, is a different kind of green. That is something children realize with the color tablets.

Color Box 1 teaches just the primary colors. Two sets of tablets include red, yellow, and blue. 

Color Box 2 adds more colors for matching, including pink, orange, green, purple, gray, brown, black, and white.

The third color box starts to teach children how to grade colors, from white to black, and grays in the middle. Some people use one color, grading lightest to darkest.

I learned Color Box 4 as being one in which you grade a color from lightest to darkest, as well as matching those tints and shades with two sets.

Color Box 5 is the best of them all. It grades all of the colors from Color Box 2 from darkest to lightest. Many people have the rows of colors radiate from a circle in the middle. My kids always call it "The Sun." It does resemble the sun or other star.

You can do all kinds of extensions with these materials. Maria wrote about he children using the original color tablets, which were actually spools of silk. You had to hold the ends of them so delicately, as fingers could leave a smudge on the silk and distort the color. Children delicately carried them around the environment, comparing them to everything they could find. I haven't yet seen my children do that, but carrying wooden versions don't feel quite as special.

When I was in training, my Montessori best friend made an original project in which children had to mix paint colors to try to match the color tablets in a grading sequence. I have added to that idea by creating cards that show a certain number of dots in a given color in each rectangle. They measure the drops and then mix the colors to see what they get. 

Does this impact kids for life? Well, I was the kid who always had to have the 64 box of crayons. As a teacher, I get annoyed with the 8-packs of colored pencils, markers, and crayons. I end up spending my own money on packages with more colors. I feel like you can be more creative, as well as more accurately represent the world around you with more color choices. I also aced the color chart exercise in my beginning oil painting class from a decade ago. The purpose was to create a chart of grades of all colors, to use as reference when painting. I whipped mine out in less than two sessions, when most people were taking several weeks to complete theirs. I feel like I can observe minute color changes everywhere around me, and find more complementary color combinations. My artistic eye was more finely tuned by using these materials. At least, that's my opinion. :-)


  1. I really like the idea of color tablets. My youngest daughter who loves art would enjoy this quite a bit!

  2. I'm sure you're right that using the materials helped tune your artistic eye. It only makes sense that using them would lead to a heightened colour sensitivity.

    And I couldn't agree with you more about the 8-pack crayon and coloured pencil sets. I remember how thrilled I was many, many (many) years ago when I received my first 64-pack. It was exhilarating having so many shades to choose from in creating my forests and skies and creatures. Amazing.

  3. These are actually a very nice idea. I like the idea of introducing the scale of colors instead of just the basics of colors and blending.

  4. My eldest is very fussy about using the "right" colour and when sometimes I need to hurry her creative soul along (we homeschool) and I ask what colour she's looking for and she's say brown and I hand her a brown pencil, etc she tells me in no uncertain terms that she needs a particular shade. She will not use a pencil (paint, etc) that is not what she had in mind and if she has to because we don't have the right shade it will really bug her. My youngest is like her Papa and brown is simply brown!

  5. Awesome. I am following you for more home school idea's. Thank you!

  6. I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm a homeschooling mom and am planning to use Montessori math. Thanks for the information!

  7. So happy to have found your blog through the A to Z challenge. I am an amateur Montessorian myself, and have been trying to incorporate more into our daily lives here. I'll be back. Thanks!

  8. A world without color would be pretty dull!

    The InfoScouter