Monday, February 4, 2008

Playing with Blocks: The Pink Tower

In the Montessori classroom (3-6) we introduce the Pink Tower to the three-year-old as part of the sensorial work to help develop the sense of visual discrimination. The Pink Tower stands prominently in the classroom-ten pink colored cubes, the largest measuring 10 centimeters on each side, and the smallest a one-centimeter cube. When Dr. Montessori designed them she painted them pink to draw the children to them. And yes it does!

To work with the Pink Tower, the child carries, with both hands, one block at a time to a work rug. Ten trips over and ten trips back get all the blocks to the rug. This activity builds concentration and memory. As the child works with the Pink Tower, the child's body and mind are absorbing information that will help in future math activities. At the simplest level, the Pink Tower is a groovy set of pink building blocks. But really it is so much more.

When working with the Pink Tower your child develops:
  • concentration
  • independent decision making skills
  • beginning math concepts of square and cubes
  • visual discrimination of 1/2 centimeter
  • hands-on experiences with geometric progression
  • understanding of physical concepts that aid in later work in algebra and higher mathematics

In addition, many children enjoy drawing the Pink Tower. The Pink Tower lends itself to artwork and challenges the child to figure out how to draw a cube, how to maintain the proportion of the tower, how to shade and more!

The beauty of the Pink Tower is that there are multiple physical concepts embedded in the material, whether we are cognizant of them or not. And it's FUN to build a tower!

A young friend of mine once told me he was done building with the Pink Tower.
"Done?" I asked him. "You use the Pink Tower everyday and you seem to enjoy it. You don't want to build with it anymore?"

"That's right." he said, "I've built it every way you can build it, I've drawn it on paper, I've painted it, I've built it with the brown stairs, and I think I'm done." he said sadly.

"Well," I said, "you can certainly move on to other works whenever you want, it's your choice. I'm wondering however, have you ever looked at the Pink Tower from the floor?"

He looked at me and tilted his head curiously, "From the floor?"he asked.

"Yes, from the floor, the Pink Tower looks very different when you lie down and look up at it from the floor."

"I've never done that!" He exclaimed.

And off he went to build his beloved Pink Tower again and when he was done building, together we lay on the floor and looked up at the pink tower. And using our magic imaginations we saw a plane fly by and a rainbow arch above us. Soon other tall towers were being constructed. The knob-less cylinders made colorful additions to his city, the red rods ran like a fence around the kingdom.

I am happy to share that my young friend is five now and still builds with the Pink Tower. He returns to it after more challenging works are completed. Like a trusted friend he finds comfort in the familiarity of it. And this budding artist has created many drawings of his imaginary city of towers. Many stories have been told about dragons that perch high above the kingdom balancing on one silver toenail on the tiniest pink cube.
I don't think he will be 'done' with the Pink Tower any time soon.

Enjoy your adventures in block play!

*credit Maren Schmidt M:magazine

1 comment:

village mama said...

Great idea.

We've had lots of success with stacking bucket play - 3 sets of them, and they all get created with.

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