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Colored Tablets

Montessori and the Wonderful World of Color 

Colored Tablets

Montessori colored tablets sharpen visual acuity. Children begin to understand the color spectrum with these wonderful lessons. Color discrimination helps with later learning, such as using logic, classification of similar and different objects, groupings and patterns of color in nature. This exercise helps develop visual language skills. These visual skills are used in reading and math skills.

Montessori first used colored silk thread tablets instead of our modern painted ones. My first directress attended one of the first Montessori preschools in Holland and experienced the thread tablets first hand. She explained that the way we present the painted color tablets, holding them on the side and not touching the colored part,  was because the colored silk thread would soil from fingerprints. She remembered how beautiful the thread spools were, the colors were vivid and very distinct. These silk thread tables were inviting to use, and much easier to match and grade than our modern painted ones.

I do own the modern colored tablets and they usually work well. But, I have found that some of the colors look too similar. Sometimes, less than perfect shades of color makes the task confusing for some children to grade and match the colors.

The teachers even had difficulty grading the magenta and red colors.  Some of these colors are so similar that it can be frustrating to figure out the correct color group. Also, the painted tablets are so shiny that the glare from the light makes the colors less distinct.

I found by purchasing colored spools of thread, I can do the same exercises with better color selections. Many students found the spools of thread much easier to match. Also, it makes sense to hold to spools carefully so that your don't touch the thread.

You can use thread, yarn, ribbon, or any type of thin thread material. Make your own tablets from cardboard,  balsa wood strips , wooden shapes or wooden cubes you can buy from any craft department or store.

Evenly wind the thread onto the boards or cubes to make your own color boxes.

Provide 2 of each primary color spools for matching. The secondary colors are used for both matching & shading, so you make sure to have enough colors to classify from light to dark. 

Here is a great overview and lessons for the color tablets from Montessori World.  The whole site is just wonderful!

Some good links for color

  • The history of names of colors are a good key lesson for the Story of Writing.
  • This article has some history about the names of colors. 
  • Crayola has a great chronology of names of crayon colors. Changes in society and history have an impact on the era names of crayons. 
  • Elizabethan colors reflect their Shakespearean culture and society-here are some of these interesting names of colors. 
  • All About Colors has lots of useful links.
  • Color-Light-Prisms-Lessons 
  • The Story of Colors is a great book to check out at your local library. It's very Montessori with it's history of color. 
  • For your daughter, who loves style and fashion, Color Me Beautiful explains about warm and cool colors for the best fashion look.
  • Here is a link for a free early reading book about color.

 There is such a joy about colors. Color plays such a large part in our lives. Just watching a sunset can be awe inspiring.

There are so many ways to appreciate color. Art is a great creative way to use color. Crayons, colored paper, markers,  paint, colored pencils and chalk are some mediums to introduce to your children.

As seasons change, observe the different colors of trees, flowers, grass and grains. Talk about your favorite color with your children. When your children get dressed in the morning talk about what colors they are wearing. Color is everywhere we look.


Sorting and matching colors makes an interesting and happy learning experience for children.  After doing this lesson our children appreciated painting and mixing different secondary colors using primary colors of tempera paint.  A love and interest in art was a by product of using the colored tablets. 


Lesson of the Day 1  has fun activities for preschool color skills. 

Free Nomenclature Color Cards 


Talia Aguilar Terrones

posted at 9:58 a.m. on October 21, 2010

hi,first of all I want to congratulate you because your web page has help me a lot; I am an english student and I am learning to teach this language, but I have some doubts about how to teach it. So, I would like to know more about which is the best method that you recomend me to get a successfull learning. for my kids. Thank you so much.

Alex Ford

posted at 3:53 a.m. on May 3, 2013

I love the array and depth of the colors as well as the wood trim on each color tablet.

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