"Aim: To help develop the child's visual discrimination of differences in three dimensions. " - David Gettaman, Basic Montessori Learning Activities for Under-Fives.
Material: 10 pink wooden cubes each differing equally in all dimensions by increments by one centimetre.
My interpretation: To teach the child concepts like 'big, small', 'biggest to smallest' and 'bigger, smaller'. May i also add that it can be indirectly used to teach route counting.
All the blocks are made of the same material, same color but differ in sizes. The biggest block is 1 centimetre larger than the second biggest block; the second block in turn is 1 centimetre larger than the third and so on.
How to play? Stack the blocks from the biggest to the smallest.
You can also teach 'big, small' concept by isolating the biggest and smallest cube.
If you are familiar with Montessori, you know that there is no need to give much verbal instruction to the child. What you need to do is to demonstrate and then let the child have a turn & explore. As the child work on the material, she would gradually understand that in order to successfully build a tower, she would have to stack them from the biggest to smallest. Therein, she will subtly learn to visually identify which block is the bigger/smaller.
I witnessed this with doll. At the beginning, she would just randomly stack the blocks which of course would collapse mid way. Now, she is slowly beginning to understand that she has to select the biggest block first. Of course, during the course, i did guide her along by asking her 'which is the big block now?'. Now, she can more or less successfully build the tower with some guidance. What's more important, she has learnt to identify which are the 'big' and 'small' blocks. Some times she would pick a big block and exclaim 'BIG!' or 'MALL' for the small blocks. :)
Now a word on why it is important that all the blocks must be of the same color and texture. Simply because you want to the child to take away learning just one message. Having too many variants in the material will confuse the child.
Take for example, the above colored stacking ring toy. Very colorful, bright and surely would attract a child right? The very purpose of this toy is obviously to 'teach' the child the concept of 'biggest to smallest'. However, it is unfortunate that each ring not only differ in size but also color. Which means, the child can play this game either by color coding or by size.
In Montessori work, each set of material all have the same variant except for one- the one variant would depend on what 'lesson' we want the child to learn.
So, is it necessary to buy Montessori material? Well, not quite. Although Montessori is known to be very costly, but not many know that we can still use Montessori method at home without burning a hole. Look around your house, you'll probably find something. Like this cookie cutter i bought at Daiso for just $2. Each cutter is of the same color, shape and texture but graduating in size. Also, perfect to teach concept like 'biggest to smallest' isn't it? :)
If you are tech savy, you can also make Pink tower cards on the computer. Do a little cutting & laminating, viola! A 2 dimension pink tower! Of course a 3-D is more fun and attractive. But i always believe as long as the concept is brought across it doesn't really matter if it's 3-D or 2-D!
Or if you feeling crafty, you can always trace out squares 10cm by 10cm on pink paper, making sure the other squares dimensions gradually decrease by 1cm.
Sprinkle some creativity, look around your house (and sometimes at Daiso), you'll sure to find something that be of use for Montessori activities at home. :)
For those who are neither tech savy or feeling crafty, or just looking for 'short cuts', I will be most willing to share my Pink Tower PDF copy with you. However, i would also like to be rewarded for my effort. Hence, i will be charging a nominal fee of $2.
You can give me tinkle at homeschool(underscore)sg(atmark)yahoo(dot)com(dot)sg.
Here's doll almost succeeding in building the tower without any guidance from me.
Lastly, i am really no expert in Montessori. These are just my sharing from my own understanding and learning/teaching journey.