In her book, Dr. Maria Montessori’s Own Handbook, Maria describes the pedagogical sensation of The Pink Tower … “Ten wooden cubes colored pink. The sides of the cubes diminish from ten centimeters to one centimeter. With these cubes the child builds a tower, first laying on the ground (upon a carpet) the largest cube, and then placing on the top of it all the others in their order of size to the very smallest. As soon as he has built the tower, the child, with a blow of his hand, knocks it down, so that the cubes are scattered on the carpet, and then he builds it up again.” (p. 72)
The Pink Tower is one of the most iconic of Montessori educational materials. She strategically designed it and it remains unchanged through time and is found in every Montessori classroom around the world.
It consists of 10 wooden cubes, ranging in size from 1 cubic centimeter to 10 cubic centimeters, differing in three dimensions.
The Development of Intelligence: The Pink Tower seems like just a stack of blocks, but it’s so much more. It is a scientifically designed material in the Sensorial Area of the classroom. Dr. Montessori believed that working with the Sensorial materials enables the children to refine their senses, have a clearer understanding of what they are seeing, feeling, touching or smelling, and helps with the development of intelligence.
The cubes in the Pink Tower are all the same color, shape and texture. This helps the child focus on one important quality of the material – size!
The Pink Tower aims to refine a child’s visual sense by discriminating differences in dimension. As a child starts taking each cube (starting from the smallest) to a mat, they can feel the weight and progression of its size. As they build the Tower, they refine their voluntary movement. The child learns self-control by doing the activity precisely and exactly.
When a child first attempts to build the Pink Tower, they may not be able to do it exactly right, they may not be able to control their movements yet. Through repetition and development of their hand-eye coordination, the child is able to make their hands move in a precise way. This is the key to self-control. When the child masters the skill, they master themself, by mastering their actions.
Using their visual perception, the child can self-assess whether they’ve built the Tower in order. This control of error helps the child realize what’s wrong and correct any mistakes. Through this, the child grows more independent and confident.
Early Development of Language and Math Skills: Indirectly the Pink Tower prepares the child for Language and Math. It prepares the hand for writing, as children need to use the 3-finger grip to carry the cubes. Through language games, new vocabulary is introduced to the child such as cube, large, small, bigger and biggest. This enables the child to further explore their environment and find something small, large or something “bigger than this”. It also encourages the child to use descriptive language in the environment.
The Pink Tower also prepares the mathematical mind. It indirectly introduces the Decimal System, as the child works with 10 cubes which represents the numbers 1-10. It also introduces Geometry, as the child explores the different cubes and their dimensions. These concepts are not introduced to the child, but are absorbed by their Absorbent Mind. Who would have thought that such a simple material could introduce so many different concepts to a child?
So, why is the color pink? Maria Montessori experimented with different colors and observed that the children were more attracted to the color pink, compared to the other colors. So much forethought has gone into the shaping of the absorbent mind and the payback is enormous. Such is the pedagogical miracle of the Montessori method in the Sensorial Area of the curriculum