Tuesday, October 13

Montessori Material: The Tower (An Introduction)

The Montessori Tower is more commonly known as the Pink Tower. In Montessori classrooms it is traditionally a pink tower containing 10 cubes ranging in size from 1x1x1 centimeters to 10x10x10 centimeters. The objective of the activity is for the child to build the tower of graduated 3 dimensional size to develop an understanding of sequence and order. The tower belongs to the Sensorial materials area and is the second of the sensorial materials introduced in the classroom to a child.

We were spending some time today in our Montessori room when my (almost) 2 year old daughter found the Montessori Tower and wanted to use it. We set out the rug and carried the pieces one by one to the rug, setting them in random order. To demonstrate, I started stacking with the first and second block before she wanted to participate and together we made the tower with the 10 cubes. After this first introduction, I showed how to take each piece down one by one. She then went right to work starting all over again setting up the tower on her own.

I didn't introduce the tower to my oldest daughter until she was 2 3/4 years old. I hadn't planned on introducing it to my youngest daughter until she was 2 1/2, so she really surprised me with how easily she understood the task.

She absolutely loved making the tower and must have assembled it at least 5 times. Sometimes she mixed up two of the cube sequences but I did not correct it or say anything. The graduated sequence provides a visual control of error (way of knowing if it is correct or not) and so she will eventually notice a mistake and self correct it.

The smallest cube required significant concentration. I could see her concentrating to hold the little cube and focused so intently on placing it at the top of the tower.

*Often times children will enjoy the process of knocking down the tower instead of taking the pieces down one at a time. Montessori, herself, wrote about this and makes no objection to it. (I have found it is best to buy the unpainted version which won't show chipped paint.)


My Boys' Teacher said...

I enjoyed this post very much, thank you! It was helpful that you said that she made some errors, that you didn't say anything, and that she would realize that eventually.

I really need to hear that type of thing, what to do when they make errors.

I wish I had read your advice to get the natural colored version a year ago :)

Evenspor said...

Ditto. That is interesting that Motessori had no objection to them knocking down the tower. The way some Montessorians make it sound, I would have thought that was a cardinal sin. Then again, those Homphrey videos have given me a very different vision of the Montessori classroom than what I previously thought. I have to thank you again for sharing them.

My Child's Diary said...

OH! How I wish I've had the Pink Tower already. It is way too expensive here in Israel, so I just need to patiently wait for one of my traveling friends to agree to bring it from the US (as well as several other sensorial materials). I thought of asking my husband or a carpenter to build it, but I afraid it won't be precise enough.
Your decision to use the natural Tower is very interesting. Thank you for sharing it. May I ask what kind of wood is it made from? Are the Brown Stairs you have also of natural color?
By the way, I was just looking through "The Discovery of the Child" (I have just received this precious book!). Two things were completely new for me! If I understood right, Maria Montessori suggests to present the Pink Tower after presenting the Red Rods and Brown Stairs, as it graduates in three dimensions, which is the hardest. Also, she writes about a child picking up both the Tower and Stairs with one hand! Both of these thoughts are radically different from what I've learned until now, but it makes so much more sense for me.
And the last thing, as for demolishing the cubes, all that she says in "The Discovery of the Child" is "When the tower is demolished it s reconstructed". I know that she also mentions it in "Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook" http://www.mymontessorihouse.com/2008/04/sensorial-knocking-down-pink-tower.html
Well, this was a very long comment indeed..:)

Regina said...

My daughter (also just 2) LOVES to stack block towers like this. We couldn't spring for the wooden version so she's just using a cardboard version with Eric Carle animals on it. It was interesting to notice last week with her plain wooden blocks that she was stacking them sideways in a line then saying "choo-choo!" like they were a train. I love these little glimpses into a toddler's imagination!

Mary Green said...

I really like your posts, where do you buy your supplies? Do you have or know of a site that can teach me a little bit more about montessori.

Amy said...

Mary- I buy from different companies online including Montessori Outlet, Alison's Montessori and Adena Montessori. The tower was bought from Montessori'N Such. I just added a link to the side of the blog under Information about Montessori. Hope it helps.

Amy said...

Evenspor- I love those videos too and am glad I found them. It is wonderful to hear from someone who worked with M. Montessori. Mira- I bought the tower from Montessori n such- not sure what it is made of. I wish I bought the broad stair in the natural color but didn't and even though it is a stain it shows the wear on the edges. I have learned that the order of the materials is: Knobbed cylinders, pink tower, broad stair, red rods. We also learned that the tower and stair should be grasped with one hand over the top of the piece until it becomes too large for the hand and then the child uses the palms flat on either side to carry. About knocking down the tower, I can't remember the book that I read it but, I remember she writes about it being "knocked down with one blow" and then it is reconstructed.

My Child's Diary said...

I appreciate your reply. Thank you! This is the sequence I've learned about also. This is why it was so surprising for me to read that Maria Montessori used the different order of the materials and spoke of children using only one hand to hold the cubes, no matter how big they are. Thank you!

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