The Pink Tower
On the days that Lena is at school, I started homeschooling Doris. She really enjoys these days and is so motivated to learn and now that she just turned three, I can do such fun activities with her. One of the typical Montessori items that was missing from our home was the Pink tower. The original Pink Tower I'm used to working with in the classroom is a bit too expensive for us since we're only using it at home with two kids, but luckily we got one from Aupa Organics which is perfect for using at home!
The Pink Tower is probably one of the most iconic Montessori materials. It was designed by Maria Montessori herself and you can still find it in Montessori classrooms and homes around the world. At first glance the pink tower looks like an ordinary stack of blocks, but Maria Montessori had many goals in mind when she constructed and developed this material. The Pink Tower introduces a number of concepts to students through hands-on manipulation. Stacking the cubes calls for visual discrimination, coordination, and precision.
The cubes of the Pink Tower are all the same colour, shape and texture. The Pink tower only varies in size. In Montessori terms this is called 'Isolation of quality', by eliminating elements that could be confusing or distracting, the child will focus on the quality being isolated, in this case size. The Pink tower consists of 10 wooden cubes ranging in size from 1 cubic centimeter to 10 cubic centimeters. In this way, the Pink Tower introduces the concept of the base ten. The cubes increase progressively in the algebraic series of the third power:
- 8 of the smallest make the second cube
- 27 of the smallest make the third cube
- 64 of the smallest cube make the fourth cube, etc.
The pink tower can be introduced from 2 1/2 years old. With Doris I started just after she turned 3 years old. With the first introduction of the pink tower I showed Doris how to carry the blocks - one by one and with both hands, the right hand gripping the cube on top and the left hand flat under the cube. I carried the first cube to the mat she does some activities on and placed it on the right side of the mat. Doris carried the other 9 blocks and placed them randomly on the same side of the mat. When all the cubes were on the mat, I picked up the biggest cube and placed it on the left side of the mat. After that I carefully examined each cube and put the next largest cube on top. In pausing between each cube selection, you model the importance of taking the time to inspect each cube in order to make the correct selection. After building the whole tower I showed Doris (without speaking) that the cubes on the tower are centred by going down the sides of the tower with my hands, not touching the tower. After that, we dismantled the tower one by one and I invited Doris to build the tower by herself. There is a natural control of error in the Pink Tower. If the child does not build the tower in the correct order, the tower will fall.
At this moment Doris only wants to build the tower, which is totally fine, but there are also many other exercises you can do with the pink tower. A few examples are:
- Introduce the concept of large and small using the 3 period lesson (large, larger, largest, small smaller smallest).
- Count the numbers 1 through 10 starting with the smallest cube (1) to the largest cube (10).
- Building the tower laying down, starting with the smallest cube.
- Building the tower laying down from the middle.
- You can also use printed out cards to put the blocks on, The Helpful Garden has a free printout for these, you can find it here
- Montessori en Casa has great print out as well you can use with the pink tower, you can find them here.
I haven't done these activities with Doris yet, but as soon as she wants to do them I will post the pictures of these activities in this blogpost, If you have any more questions about the Pink Tower, please let me know!
Our Pink tower comes from the beautiful Barcelona based shop Aupa Organics they have a very careful selection of products made with organic and biodegradable materials, free of toxics and produced in an ethical and sustainable way. If you're ing Barcelona, their shop is really worth a visit and otherwise they also have an online shop!