Montessori Encyclopedia: Color Box 3
How do you use this material?
Color Box 3 is a large wooden box in the Sensorial Area, containing 63 color tablets: gradation sets of 7 tablets of each of the following colors, blue, red, yellow, green, orange, purple, grey (including white and black), brown, and pink. This material is presented after success with Color Box 2.
The guide will invite the child to take the box to a rug, and they’ll examine the contents together.
As this material was originally made with silk threads, which were easily soiled, the guide will demonstrate the careful way of holding each color tablet, with thumb and forefinger on the wooden edges of each tablet.
The guide will select one color, and remove all seven tablets in the gradation. The guide will make a note, “I’m going to find the one that comes first.”
The guide will find either extreme, either darkest or lightest, and compare it to a few other tablets before placing it in front of the child.
The guide will give another note, “I’m going to find the one that comes next.” The guide will repeat the process of scanning, selecting, comparing, and placing each color tablet in order of gradation, either from darkest to lightest or from lightest to darkest.
The guide will invite the child to select another color set and grade the color tablets.
After practice, the guide will introduce language, light, lighter, lightest, dark, darker darkest, for each color.
When the child is successful grading the tablets one color at a time, the guide will invite the child to take out and grade two colors at a time, then three, then all the colors. There will also be games with this material.
What is the child learning?
The child is refining their chromatic sense. Things can be red or orange, but also dark red and light orange. By introducing the child to this range in gradation of a particular color, a child is learning about “blue-ness,” and can apply their knowledge to the outside world, which is so much more diverse than even the biggest box of crayons can contain!
What does a child not know they’re learning?
The child is learning precise refinement. There are subtle differences between some of the shades and tints, and even between colors at the lightest or darkest levels. These differences matter, and Color Box 3 helps a child to be comfortable working with a material until they’re satisfied with the results.
Written by:Charlotte Snyder