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Montessori Monday 5 2013/14

Added Oct 16, 2013

The Pink Tower

No Montessori classroom would be complete without the Pink Tower, one of the
original materials designed by Dr. Montessori herself. From our Stepping Stones
classrooms through the 3-6 classrooms, the Pink Tower is a beloved favorite of
teachers and children alike. 

For the child, the tower offers an intriguing challenge: build the ten cubes as high
as you can make them without the tower crumbling. This is more difficult than it
looks! While that largest cube, at a full 10cm cubed, is easy to manage and
difficult to tumble, that tiny 1cm cube requires much more precision. Within the
tower, like in so many other Montessori materials, there are hidden benefits,
lessons to be internalized through trial and error. For example, the tower helps to
develop hand and eye coordination, as children manage the varying weights and
dimensions of the ten cubes. It supports children's visual discrimination, as they
choose which block to place next in the sequence. It supports their understanding of
the relationship of dimension to volume. It contributes to the foundation for the
Base Ten number system by working in dimensions of diminishing tenths. As the
child's precision grows, it can be combined with other sensorial materials to expand
the challenge, or built with one or two edges aligned for more difficulty, or built
with alternating centers of gravity to explore the distribution of force. Meanwhile,
as a material that requires the child to carry each cube, one by one by one, from
the shelf to the mat and back again, it establishes a sense of order, an ability to
concentrate and an opportunity to practice gross motor control in the classroom.
Finally, since the tower will not stand unless the child has organized all these
components with accuracy, it serves as its own control of error, allowing the child,
with his or her ever-increasing attention to detail, to notice independently when
the tower has been constructed well. 

Plus, the simple beauty of the pink cubes provides a balanced aesthetic that
inspires many children to observe their own work. No wonder it's a favorite! Over a
hundred years after it was first introduced, the Pink Tower has earned its place as
a center of the Sensorial materials and a well-loved didactic component of the
classroom. 

Catherine McTamaney, Ed.D.
Christopher Academy Alumna

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