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Introducing colours the concrete way

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

Children can start identifying colours by around 18 months and can begin naming them from around 2.5-3 years.

Typically in a Montessori setting children will be introduced to the world of colour using the COLOUR TABLETS in the Sensorial area. There are three colour boxes with the most basic being COLOUR BOX 1 which focuses on the three primary colours.

If you can’t get hold of the tablets then another really simple, cost effective alternative is to use colour paint swatches picked up from the DIY store or any plain coloured card. The emphasis in teaching colours using tablets in this way is because you are introducing the colours in their concrete, simplest form – without any association to an object. Say for example you introduced a blue ball - if the child always associates a ball with being blue then what happens if they see an orange ball? Is it still a ball if it’s not blue?

Using the colour tablets or swatches in such a way means the only thing that is different is the colour - we are isolating the skill of visual perception here.

Stage 1 : 18 months - 2.5 years

(without using any language)

  • Remove the tablets from the box

  • Line up the three different coloured tablets in a row with their pairs randomly placed to the side

  • Compare the colours

  • Match and pair all three colours

  • Tablets are replaced in the box

Here the child is:

  • Refining and building their visual discrimination of colour

  • Building on their experience of matching

  • Refining their fine motor skills (only handling the wooden corners of the tablets)

Stage 2: 2.5 years - 3 years

Language is introduced using the 3 period lesson

  • Take out each individual colour tablet

  • Adults say 'This is red' and points to the red tablet

  • Ask the child to 'point to red'

  • Ask the child 'what colour is this?' (whilst pointing to the red tablet

  • Repeat for blue and yellow

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