The Montessori Color Tablets: Explanation and Presentation

Learn about what the Montessori Color Tablets are and how to present them, including the extension activities. This can be done in a classroom setting or in your home.

What are the Montessori Color Tablets?

The Montessori color tablets are a traditional Montessori sensorial material and are a “fan favorite” in Montessori classrooms around the world. This is likely due to their appealing colors and their potential as an item for open-ended exploration.

There are 3 Color Tablet boxes:

  • Box 1: 3 pairs of primary color tablets
  • Box 2: 11 pairs of primary and secondary colors tablets, plus black, grey, pink, and brown
  • Box 3: 9 sets of 7 tablets. Primary and secondary colors, plus grey, black, pink, and brown

The first 2 boxes are pairing activities and the third box is a grading activity. Children are welcome to use their imaginations to create designs with the tablets following the presentation and activity.

These are used in Montessori education setting for the primary age group. These tablets can easily be made at home using hardware store paint samples, however.

montessori color tablets pin

Direct aim

  • Visual discrimination of color

Indirect aim

  • Helps develop sense of visual order

Points of interest

  • Comparing colors
  • Feeling each tablet

Vocabulary

  • The name of each color
  • Light, lighter, lightest
  • Dark, darker, darkest

How to present the Montessori Color Tablets

The Montessori Color Tablets should not all be introduced in one lesson, or even in a single day. Space the introduction of the boxes out so your child has the opportunity to work with each one until they are ready to move forward.

Box 1

  • Show your child that the tablets should be handled by their edges
  • Place the tablets in random order on a table
  • Say, “I’m going to match these colors.”
  • Pick a red tablet and place it on the table in front of your child
  • Let your child see that you are looking intently for its match
  • Place the second red tablet next to the first one, to its right
  • Put the pair of red tablets at the top of the table
  • Follow these steps with the yellow and blue color tablets
  • Show your child the matched pairs, one by one, and tell her, “This is a pair because the colors are the same.”
  • Return the tablets to the center of the table in a random order and invite your child to try the activity
Montessori color tablets

Box 2

  • Place the tablets in random order on a table
  • Say, “I’m going to match these colors.”
  • Pick a red tablet and place it on the table in front of your child
  • Place the second red tablet next to the first one, to its right
  • Put the pair of red tablets at the top of the table
  • Follow these steps with the yellow and blue color tablets, forming a column
  • Proceed with pairing the remaining colors in the order purple, green, orange, brown, grey, pink, white, and black
  • Return the tablets to the center of the table in a random order and invite your child to try the activity

Box 3

  • Place the Montessori Color Tablets on a mat, in random order
  • Tell your child that you are going to order the tablets
  • Find the darkest tablet in a given set and place it on the left side of the mat
  • Find the lightest tablet from that set and place it toward the right of the mat
  • Place the next lightest color tablet to the right of the darkest tablet and continue this until they are ordered from darkest to lightest
  • Repeat this process with each color set in the box
  • Show your child how each set goes from darkest to lightest
  • Return the tablets to the center of the table in a random order and invite your child to try the activity
Maria Montessori sensory quote

Montessori Color Tablet activity extensions

  • Memory activities
  • Matching tablets to items in the room
  • Matching to nomenclature cards (3-part cards)
  • Grading colors by mixing white to lighten
  • Creating sunburst or reverse sunburst by placing color tablets in order from darkest to lightest (or lightest to darkest), starting at the center and moving outward

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