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Montessori Color Box 1, 2 & 3 • Sensorial 🌈Color Tablets

Color Boxes with tablets are a traditional Montessori sensorial material usually introduced to a toddler starting at 2 ½ years old. 

Montessori Color Tablets Box 1

Color box 1 familiarizes a toddler with primary colors as it contains six tablets: pairs of blue, red, and yellow. As a result, a child learns primary colors, develops visual perception and discrimination of color, and practices pairing the tablets (matching the identical colors), thus developing concentration, fine motor coordination, and a pincer grip. Handle the tablets between the thumb, index and a middle finger (a pincer grip) and place them randomly on the table. Pick up one tablet, name it ("This is red”) and places it vertically in front of the child. Ask the child to find a matching pair: "Can you find red?"  The control of error is that the child visually sees the differences.

A note: if you will be buying Box 2, do not buy Box 1 since the six pairs from Box 1 will be included among others in Box 2. (I did not purchase Box 1, just Box 2 and 3.)

DSC_0041Practicing a pincer grip.

After the child has successfully paired the tablets, you may introduce the language, teaching the different color names using Montessori Three Period Lesson:

(P1) "This is red."

(P2) "Can you show me red?"

(P3) "What is this?" 


We also play a game: where Adrian would walk around the house and collect objects of a particular color ~ we call it Color Hunts.

DSC_0039The Red Basket.

DSC_0039The Orange Basket.

 Montessori Color Tablets Box 2 

Color Box 2 contains 22 tablets with 11 pairs of the following:

  • Blue, red, yellow – primary colors;
  • Purple, orange, green – secondary colors;
  • Pink, grey, brown – tertiary colors;
  • White and black.

 With smaller children, you might want to start by asking the child to select the primary colors already done with Color Box 1, saying “Would you like to pick out the primary colors that we have already done?” or “ Would you like to get the blue, red and yellow color tablets and find their match?"  You will next introduce the three secondary colors by picking them out and getting the child to match them, followed by the tertiary colors, and so forth. 

DSC_0031Adrian would match the primary colors first.DSC_0044Then, he would match the secondary colors.
DSC_0044Next, Adrian would match the tertiary colors.
DSC_0044Finally, he would match the remaining white and black pairs.

When the child successfully matches all the pairs, you may then introduce the names using a Three Period Lesson. Being just one month short of his third birthday, Adrian knows all the colors from Box 2 in Russian when I ask: " Can you show me?" (P2). (In English, he could do it at 33 months). And he can successfully complete the Third-Period in English when asked: "What color is this?" (P3) ~ he would correctly answer. 

Color Memory Game with Color Box 2.

To make learning fun, to facilitate movement, and to promote recollection of colors from memory, we would also play a game, where I would have two baskets: each containing identical tablets. One basket will be on the mat with me, and the second in the other room. I would lay a tablet on the mat, ask Adrain what color it is, and have him and his truck drive to the other room to get the matching pair from the second basket.  


DSC_0024Here, I laid a red tablet and asked Adrian to "drive" to the other room to get the matching pair. He had to remember, while driving, which color he must get, as he did not have anything to remind him of that color (aka Memory game) like with the Car-Color Matching game where he was given a car (a reminder) to go to the other room to find a similar color match from the Color Box 3.

DSC_0028Here, Adrian "drove" to the other room to get the matching pair for the pink color.
DSC_0029-001At last, the purple pair delivery had arrived. All pairs are matched!

 Montessori Color Tablets Box 3

Color Box 3 has 63 colors representing nine colors in seven graded shades of red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, brown, pink and grey

Initially, you would start with three contrasting shades of any one color, introducing the language: darkest-lightest-in the middle. You will show the child how to grade the tablets from the darkest to the lightest or vice versa. 

DSC_0049To illustrate, I arranged the three shades of each color on the neutral mat and showed the tablets to Adrian, annunciating each shade. 


I then placed the three shades of any one color in a basket, mixed them up, and offered Adrian to grade them from the darkest to the lightest, inserting the in-between color tablet in the middle.

DSC_0003Some shades are very similar to each other, but Adrian managed to grade them correctly.

DSC_0005-001To add some fun, Adrian arranged the graded color tablets around the Sun, as a color wheel.

DSC_0010To reinforce the concept of contrast color gradation, Adrian then took the lightest and darkest from the Sun Color Wheel and arranged the tablets as a railway track. 

DSC_0016He would put the two contrasting shades of the same color together (since Box 3 does not have matching pairs).

DSC_0018The railway track has the darkest and lightest of the same color together, leaving the in-the-middle shade at the Color Wheel.

DSC_0021How can we have a railway track without a choo-choo?

Once the child can grade three tablets (darkest-lightest-in the middle), you may introduce all seven shades. Place the tablets randomly on the table and proceed to grade them from darkest to lightest. Being almost three years old, Adrain could not arrange all seven shades gradually, but he initiated to pull out the knobless cylinders, and I just observed how he made a color wheel shape with the tablets and the cylinders. 

DSC_0081.JPG"Following the Child."
DSC_0081.JPGWe will definitely be revisiting the Color Box 3.

Below is the order in which you will generally introduce sensorial materials starting at around 2 years of age:

  1.  Knobbed Cylinders (at 2 years);
  2. followed by Pink Tower  (at 2 years);
  3. Brown Stairs /Broad Stair;
  4. Color Box 1 (at 2 ½ years); followed by Color Boxes 2 and 3 when the child had mastered the prior Box.

DIY Color Matching + Fine Motor Pegging

Montessori materials can be 💰costly,  so I love finding an alternative. This DIY resembles matching Montessori Color Tablets ~ similar to Color Box 2 ~ a traditional Sensorial material introduced to toddlers starting at 2 ½ years old. 

With this activity, besides simply matching color samples from your local hardware store, offer your child to practice fine motor skills by matching colored clothespins and also graduating pegs in order from smallest to largest or vise-versa. And if you have plain wooden pegs, just color them either with Sharpies (what we used) or use tempera stick paints which are awesome too!


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